I am a tad disappointed in myself. I am a writer and did not know the word clerihew. Shameful!
Perhaps I was out sick the day of school when my creative writing class teacher taught about clerihews. Or maybe I was distracted by trying to impress the handsome poet that sat three seats behind me. Either way, I missed the lesson.
A clerihew is a whimsical, four-line biographical poem invented by Edmund Clerihew Bentley. The first line is the name of the poem’s subject, usually a famous person put in an absurd light, or revealing something unknown or misleading about them. The rhyme sequence is AABB, and the rhymes are often forced. The line length and metre are irregular. Bentley invented the clerihew in school and then popularized it in books. One of his best known is this, written in 1905:
Sir Christoper Wren
Said, “I am going to dine with some men.
If anyone calls
Say I am designing St. Paul’s”
Not earth-shattering. Not soul-search provoking. Not heart-crushing or heart-lifting. But cute, clever, and obviously it “took” since I am here, 113 years later, writing about National Clerihew Day. Go figure.
I decided to give it a shot.
Rebecca, nearing sixty-one
believes that she may still be cool and fun
But little does she know
It may all be quite a big show
These clerihews are for the birds! I’m going back to Elizabeth Barrett Browning.