There was a young rustic named Mallory,
who drew but a very small salary.
When he went to the show,
his purse made him go
to a seat in the uppermost gallery.

Can you explain to me the point of this limerick? Are the three last lines meant literally or figuratively? I am not able recognize the comic effect except some vague sort of paradox.

  • 3
    I think the problem here is that limericks are usually made for comic effect, but this one appears not to be. I certainly can't see any jokes or puns, which is confusing if you're expecting one. – Bob Tway Oct 13 '15 at 13:59
  • 1
    This limerick actually appears to be one of the earliest published ones, dating from 1880 (thehypertexts.com/The%20Best%20Limericks%20of%20All%20Time.htm). – Ric Oct 13 '15 at 14:57
  • 3
    The only "humor" I see here is the dactylic rhyme "Mallory / salary / gallery", which sounds kind of funny. – Nate Eldredge Oct 13 '15 at 15:08

It's saying that the subject of the poem, Mallory, did not get paid much, so when going to the theater he had to settle for the worst, farthest away seats.

  • you nailed it. +1 for the quickness. I was writing this! – Maulik V Oct 13 '15 at 12:06
  • 8
    @bart-leby: This is the physically uppermost position - it's far away from the performance. – Deusovi Oct 13 '15 at 12:15
  • 2
    In an auditorium or pavilion the uppermost seats are bit 'cheaper'. The reason is the 'distance'. The first row down has better and closer view of the artists playing roles. – Maulik V Oct 13 '15 at 12:18
  • 8
    These uppermost seats are in what is sometimes called the "nosebleed" section because of their "high altitude". – Tᴚoɯɐuo Oct 13 '15 at 13:00
  • 2
    Also know as "the gods" due to their proximity to heaven. :-) – Steve Melnikoff Oct 13 '15 at 13:14

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.