Saturday, 14 July 2012

The Clerihew

00:05:00 Posted by Ashley Lister , , 4 comments

  by Ashley Lister

  The clerihew is a type of verse invented by Edmund Clerihew Bentley (1875-1956). Traditionally, it's a four-line poem made up of two rhyming couplets (aabb), with metre intentionally (often ridiculously) irregular. Its purpose is to offer a satiric or absurd biography of a famous person. Here are some of Bentley's own clerihews:

Sir Christopher Wren
Said, 'I am going to dine with some men.
If anyone calls
Say I am designing St. Paul's.'

Edward the Confessor
Slept under the dresser.
When that began to pall,
He slept in the hall.

John Stuart Mill,
By a mighty effort of will,
Overcame his natural bonhomie
And wrote 'Principles of Political Economy.'

What I like about Clive
Is that he is no longer alive.
There is a great deal to be said
For being dead.

Rhyme Scheme
The art of biography
Is different from geography
Geography is about maps
But Biography is about chaps.

Note the aabb rhyme scheme which comes from the end-rhyming of the words biography/geography (the ‘a’ rhymes in this poem) and maps/chaps (the ‘b’ rhymes in this poem).

Metre is from the Greek word for measuring. Metre is a system of measuring the sounds and rhythm of a poem. In a poem with regular metre, the poet will be counting the syllables so that each line contains approximately the same amount. In a poem with irregular metre, like the clerihew, the number of syllables in each line can vary greatly.

 Write a clerihew using your own name. The poem must be four lines in length made up of two rhyming couplets. The metre must be irregular.
Write a clerihew using the name of a celebrity or someone currently in the news.
Write a clerihew using the name of a friend, a colleague or a member of your family.



Louise Barklam said...

My name is Louise
And I long to write poems with ease
But my brain just won't let me
It rebels and whirs relentlessly.

So Katie Holmes is getting divorced
From Tom Cruise with his ego that is forced
A quick settlement and a cheesy grin for the camera
Here's hoping she will now get her "Happy Ever After".

Lindsay is my very best friend
We've been Chums since school and will til the end
She absolutely raises the bar
She is always there and she is a star!

Ashley R Lister said...


You had fun with these, didn't you?

I love all three of these (especially rhyming 'camera' with 'ever after' and 'me' with 'relentlessly') but I think I like the one about Lindsay best.

You're right to say that she raises the bar. I hope she's reading these comments today.


Louise Barklam said...

Absolutely agree about Lindsay! (Not that I'm biased or anything, lol)

Yes, I had fun with these. I learn something new all the time on here, so thank you, and everyone else for doing this Blog!

Lou. x

Lindsay said...

I've propped up a few bars, not sure I'm any good at raising them ha ha! Cheers guys you've cheered me up today :D

Glad you're finally writing that book Ash, about time.