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Monday, August 1, 2011

87. From my Archives: The Clerihew

A Clerihew is a humorous, pseudo-biographical quatrain, rhymed as two couplets, with lines of uneven length, more or less in the rhythm of prose. It is short and pithy and often contains or implies a moral reflection of some kind.

The clerihew was created by a person with the unlikely name of Edmund Clerihew Bentley - who obviously had far too much time on his hands [as well as having parents whose creativity in naming their children cannot be questioned].

The rules for the clerihew are simple enough: a clerihew consists of four lines - and only four. Lines one and two should rhyme with each other, and lines and four should also. There are no stipulations concerning how many beats there are to a line. Line one consists of the person's name; line two involves a generalisation about the person; lines 3 and 4 must rhyme, and further extend our knowledge of the person and their contribution to society.

Marie Antoinette
Is one we should never forget
She made the moral error the rich often make
Suggesting that if the poor have no bread, they should eat cake.

Bentley Clerihew
Undoubtedly understood a thing or two
About the creation of a new poetic form
And thus the clerihew was born

Sigmund Freud
Became more than a little annoyed
By women suffering from hysterial paraysis
Hence: psychoanalysis/

Patrick White
Wrote all right
And to some people’s surprise
Even won a Nobel prize

(Bryce Courtenay
Never gort any)

John Howard
Is no moral coward
It’s just that he’s read the Morgan Gallup poll notes:
Saying “Sorry” won’t win votes.”

John Laws
Deserves applause
Whenever he speaks, you know just where he stands
And just whose dollars he’s grasping in his hands

Alan Jones
Makes no bones
About getting righteously under the collar
If it will get him a dollar

Jesus Christ?
One of the nic’st!
In Jerusalem, Him and his 12 mates, so they say
Started the first YMCA

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