The Pelican Brief

16 Nov

You may know these lines.

A wonderful bird is the pelican,
His bill will hold more than his belican,
He can take in his beak
Enough food for a week
But I’m damned if I see how the helican!

It is a limerick of some fame. In fact, some consider it one of the best limericks of all time.

Through the years, I have heard several limericks, and some of them have stuck in my mind. There is the one about Nantucket. There is also one I heard in a movie about a young lady from Niger who rode on a tiger.

Bonus points for anyone who can tell me what movie featured that one.

Now, back to the pelican limerick. Most people think it was written by Ogden Nash. Apparently, Nash wrote a bunch of limericks, and, when people do not know who wrote something, they automatically think he did it. Look it up. The name of Ogden Nash is all over The Pelican.

However, here is the thing. Ogden Nash did not write this one. The Pelican was written by Dixon Merritt, who lived in Lebanon, Tennessee.Dixon Merritt

His name is prominent in our town’s history. There is a building at Cedars of Lebanon State Park that bears his name. He also taught at Cumberland University; edited The Lebanon Democrat and The Tennessean newspapers; served as Tennessee State Director of Public Safety; and was an amateur historian.

On top of all that, he was a poet, and most people did not know it.

10 Responses to “The Pelican Brief”

  1. Marilyn Armstrong November 16, 2015 at 02:07 #

    I love limericks, but most of my favorites are “R” rated πŸ™‚

    • Rick November 16, 2015 at 02:23 #

      I agree. That’s why I can remember the Nantucket one.

      • Marilyn Armstrong November 16, 2015 at 02:24 #

        And I’ve got a bunch more which, oddly enough, my mother taught me. Naughty, naughty πŸ™‚

  2. Bantering Ram November 16, 2015 at 03:59 #

    Strange sort of Monday morning. After going low with news of John going into semi-retirement from his blog (thoughtsfromwest5), this one has now redeemed my day.

    • Rick November 16, 2015 at 04:09 #

      I was sad to read John’s post. He recounts some interesting stories.

      • Bantering Ram November 16, 2015 at 04:35 #

        He does. I hope he does continue even if not as frequently. I’m looking forward to the release of his book.

  3. Andrew Petcher November 16, 2015 at 08:08 #

    In Harm’s Way?

    • Rick November 16, 2015 at 13:05 #

      That’s the one.

  4. jcalberta November 16, 2015 at 19:07 #

    Haaa !
    The one from Nantucket has a few ribald variations.
    That I won’t recite here.

    • Rick November 17, 2015 at 03:15 #

      I think you should write an entire post about it.

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