|It's his fault. Blame him.|
Noun. Early 20th century.
[Edmund Clerihew Bentley (1875-1956), English writer who devised the form.]
A short witty, comic, or nonsensical verse,
usually in two rhyming couplets with lines of unequal length.
OK ... prepare yourself for a clerihew bomb:
Likes to kiss like a llama
But with that all's well
So does Michelle.
How was that? Awful, I know. But with clerihews, that's sort of the point. "The humour of the form," notes the Encylopaedia Brittanica, "lies in its purposefully flat-footed inadequacy." With the clerihew, clumsy metre, forced rhymes and nonsensical tomfoolery is the order of the day. I think I'll try another:
Queen Liz (that's Elizabeth II)
Gets quite uppity when improperly beckoned
By Charles and Camill when they send her a text
"Do come, mother, we're about to watch The Factor X."
Awful. Just horribly, horribly atrocious (and yet I still have the feeling I'm not quite writing them badly enough). Although setting rules to clerihews is a bit like setting rules to failure, there are a few conventions to stick to if trying to write a bona fide clerihew. These are:
- A clerihew is four lines long
- It has a rhyming structure of AABB
- The first line is a person's name (the subject of the poem)
- The clerihew says something about that person
- You don't need to worry about counting syllables or anything boring like that
- In fact, try and make it awkward and forced
- It should be funny, or at least make you smile
And in case you think I'm just not very good at writing these gems of literature, here's one by Mr Bentley himself:
The people of Spain think Cervantes
Equal to half-a-dozen Dantes
An opinion resented most bitterly
By the people of Italy
Oh my giddy aunt - it's an absolute car crash of a literary form. I just don't think I'm a match for that level of ineptitude.
Can you write a clerihew?
Do please leave your worst, most nonsensical verse in the box below.