On May 22, 2003, the Literary Awards Committee of the American Academy of Arts & Letters met (its membership included Reynolds Price, Romulus Linney, Mark Strand, George Plimpton, and, along with some others, me). At lunch, Reynolds brought up the subject of limericks, and asked me if I could quote any of my own; I blanked out, and this letter was meant to amend my lapse of memory. —A.H.

Dear Reynolds,

That day in New York, when you asked me whether I could recite any limericks of my own, I was momentarily at a total loss, and couldn't recall a single one; though in the course of years I've composed quite a few. So I thought I would send you some. I record them in a pretty good book called The Lure of the Limerick, by W.S. Baring-Gould. But before I offer any works of my own, I should mention one reputedly by Kingsley Amis.

The fellow who screwed Brigid Brophy
Was awarded the Kraft-Ebbing trophy;
            He was paid eighty quid
            For the thing that he did.
Which many decla…