March 23, 2016

"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. The rhyme scheme is AABB, and the rhymes are often forced. The line length and metre are irregular."

Well, that sounds awfully easy. Why aren't we seeing these more often? Check out the examples at the link to see how simple these are. (Much easier than limericks.) The first one ever written was:
Sir Humphry Davy
Abominated gravy.
He lived in the odium
Of having discovered sodium.
Which sets the standard. Easy, no? Perhaps you'll feel inspired to write one about the most famous man on the face of the earth (Donald J. Trump) or some other famous person.

I don't remember ever seeing this word before, but I've discovered the on-line archive of NYT acrostic puzzles and I've been working my way back in time, got to the puzzle from July 27, 2014 and was stymied by the clue "Four-line verse poking fun at a famous person."

(From the same puzzle, I learned that the word "orchestra" originally meant "the circle where a chorus sang and danced" and that the first intercollegiate football game was hosted by Rutgers. Love the randomness of the information in acrostics. Much more interesting than the crossword.)


mccullough said...

Hillary Clinton
Never fit in.
So her husband Bill
Found other holes to fill.

mccullough said...

Barack Obama
Loved his mama
And spends his life
Taking shit from his wife

whswhs said...

Double dactyls are considerably harder.

mccullough said...

Donald Trump
Has made the GOP a rump
By showing those fools
Have no family jewels

Bob Boyd said...

Donald Trump
Took a dump
Hitler Also Pooped!
The New York Times scooped

mccullough said...

Malachi Mulligan,
Two dactyls in
a row make it
sound like a snake pit.

Saint Croix said...

Little Baby Satan
Was a Master of Hatin'
He's on the Boob Tube
Vanilla Ice Cube

rcocean said...

There once was a man called Obama
Who didn't like his Grandmama
She's too White
He said with Delight.

Saint Croix said...

Will your stomach churn?
As you feel the Bern?
The sheep say Baaaaaa
At angry grandpa

Paco Wové said...

Althouse would probably appreciate:

Dylan Thomas
showed early promise.
His name's no dimmer, man
on old Bob Zimmerman.

(Not my personal favorite example of the genre, but there it is.)

rcocean said...

A wife of Trump
Is never Frump
But the wife of Bush
has a very large tush.

mccullough said...

Bernie Sanders
Doesn't have handlers
To tell him what to say
But he's losing anyway

Saint Croix said...

What difference does it make?
Your accent is fake
Bark like a dog
Benghazi? The fog!

mccullough said...

John Kasich
Pronounced like basic
Wants to get along
But is getting schlonged

Saint Croix said...

I am not rich
I am Kasich
Pay me some money
I will be your honey!

Saint Croix said...


Cath said...

Professor Ann Althouse
Allows us all t' grouse
In this welcoming forum
With varying decorum.

Bob Boyd said...

Hillary Rodham
Foggy Bottom
Secrets were spilled
People got killed

Amanda said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael said...

Donald J Trump
Spoke from the stump
Drove the progs mad
Made the reps sad

Michael said...

Amanda the poet
Didn't know it
AABB you see
Is not ABAB

Sebastian said...

Donald Drumpf
Leaves me stumped.
But give the man his due:
An FU clarihew.

Saint Croix said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
surfed said...

Perfessor Althouse
And her puparrazi doghouse
Write and consign with wit
Those of us inclined to web flit

Saint Croix said...

I wish somebody would attack me
The quiet peace of serenity
I can fix your brain, you know
Got to catch a train and go

Sebastian said...

Hill, “wife” of Bill,
Is a shrew who sounds shrill.
SOS: epic fail.
But will not go to jail.

Paco Wové said...

Tis sad but true-
the interests of Althouse commenters be few,
despite myriad nudging tricks, they
Think of naught but politics.

gpm said...

I actually wrote one of these once, inspired by the Humphrey Davy one, which I always loved:

Max von Planck
Attacked and sank
With a quizzical, physical touch:
He asked "How much?"

I've been doing the Times Acrostics since about April of 2014. Always liked the idea of acrostics, but the letter transfers on paper were too much of a drag. It's so much nicer when the transfers happen automatically.

I've been lured recently by the Times archives, but there's only so much time to waste. Looking back, I had done the 7/27/14 one Althouse is referring to (and the orchestra clue was a gimme for me) in one of my better times.

Will be heading to Stamford (ugh) next weekend for the Will Shortz crossword tournament. After a 30-year lapse, I went to the one in Brooklyn two years ago to meet up with a high school friend. Being in Brooklyn for the first time (and spending some time in Brooklyn/Manhattan) was probably a lot more interesting than Stamford is going to be.

I was better at it than she was, but my mother was doing the crosswords in the Chicago Sun-Times and Sunday Tribune into her 90s. When I was "home" for Christmas, I always had to finish the Sunday puzzles for her.


tim in vermont said...

Donald J Trump
Put the poles in a lump
And has mastered the podium
To broadcast his odium.

Cath said...

Here's a few for the longtime althousers...

The late unlamented Downtown Lad,
Faux outrage and anger were all he had.
He'd often come over here to fight us.
We're so much better off with Titus.

Sippican Cottage
Arrested for frottage.
I can't think of any other reason
Why he hasn't been here for many a season.

Sarah from VA said...

Come on, people, the poem has like three rules! It's not that hard to follow all of them!

It is interesting to me that, given how simple the form is, all the most entertaining responses here are the ones that hew exactly to it instead of taking liberties.

I have a cousin who once requested poems from her facebook friends for her birthday instead of just a simple greeting. One of her brothers responded with about a dozen different ones, all in different forms, including a clerihew, which was the first time I encountered one. (They are very convenient for birthday greetings, certainly.)

Ann Althouse
Chose a spouse
Some claim he's a troll
But she seems to find him droll

Sebastian said...

Tis sad but true-
the interests of Althouse commenters be few,
despite myriad nudging tricks, they
are nothing like Paco Wové.

Amanda said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amanda said...

Donald J Trump's mind runs hither and thither
Brain waves dance to the tune of mad zither
Like a bats in the belfry and squirrels in the attic.
Mouth moves, tongue wags with words erratic.

Fixed it, thanks Michael. :)

Cath said...

I really miss Palladian
He'd often draw this lady in
With his wise and well-reasoned discussions
But I never answered in the comments because I was a little concerned about the possible repercussions.

Saint Croix said...

Back to the Future 2
For me and for you!
As soon as I buy one
I will fly one

Triangle Man said...

Chump Trump's bump
ain't much to hump
Authoritarian dilettante
Loves the voting sycophant

Amanda said...

Cruz swore twasn't I!"
That posted naked hip and thigh
Trump bellowed a threat
"Your wife I'll get yet!"

Cath said...

Garage Mahal
is standing tall,
A lone loony lefty posting contrary opinions without fear
I don't think I've ever agreed with him, but I'm glad he's here.

Morgan said...

Blogress Ann Althouse
Sometimes mentions her spouse
In her daily reports
On celebs, news, and courts

Cath said...

Delight us
With more pictures of your Indian-American husband with the amazing guns. It's
Who I assume that picture in your profile is. Tits.

Paco Wové said...

Evan Izer
Left us all the wiser;
Many have tried, but none can
Replace the long lost Palladian.

Amanda said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amanda said...

Althouse says echo chambers are boring
General agreement leads to snoring
Vive la différence
Succumb not to ignorance!

Paco Wové said...

Chip Ahoy,
enthusiastic as a boy
filled these screens with glyphic wit
but lately wouldn't give an avocado pit.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Ann Althouse, Professor
And Meade, who impress'd her
Con-Law she unmuddies
Plus Critical Breast Studies

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Amanda commentor
Many resent her
Its hopeless, you see
All succumb to me!

coupe said...
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coupe said...
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Amanda said...

Liberal chick though I be
Like hanging out here, don't you see?
Making conservatives feel outrage
Such fun and frolic to rattle their cage.

coupe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tom said...

Hillary Clinton,
Had Yoko Ono's clit on,
Her lips,
Now she has hips.

coupe said...
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Curtiss said...

Donald J. Trump
Never will slump.
Hillary's low stamina
Is how he'll be slamming her.

EDH said...

Liberal trolls, a dime a dozen
Amber encased, your mindsets frozen,
Convinced your're on a quest for that which is true,
Most often that cage you're rattling actually encloses you.

Curtiss said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gabriel said...

Edvard Grieg
was fat as a peeg.
He wrote Peer Gynt,
I sure wish he dint.

(Not mine, sorry.)

Amanda said...

EDH initials he's unwilling to hear
Voices different, relax, don't fear
Even conservatives can be wrong
Be not rigid, you may learn a new song.

Amanda said...

Paul Ryan a conservative true blue
Today said the term "takers and makers" he will eschew
You see, Paul Ryan said he was wrong
To demonize poor folk for so long

Ann Althouse said...

Funny contributions.

Technically, remember, the first line should consist only of the famous person's name.

Meade said...

Says the rules you must heed
Forced rhymes are often
So just keep your pants on

Amexpat said...

Paul Ryan
Is a dying
To be a president
Trump needs to relent

JohnJEnright said...

Ann Althouse,
Famous for taking a commenting spouse,
Tackles all topics from fashion to dogs
When she blogs.

Meade said...

Like Bob Boyd's poopy math
Caused meadehouse much hee haw hoo hoos
With their clever and crazy and quick clerihews

Amexpat said...

Chris Christie
Gets all misty
Hollering in the tent
Promoting Trump's bowel movement

Gabriel said...

@Ann:Technically, remember, the first line should consist only of the famous person's name.

Besides that, and AABB:

It should say what the person is famous for
While it can be silly, and maybe even satirical, it should not be vicious.

john sager said...

My favorite was always this one:

Ted Hughes
Sylvia's muse
Was rather good-looking,
Let his wife do the cooking.

coupe said...
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coupe said...
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coupe said...
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Saint Croix said...

What a dick
Ghost of Marco
You finished quatro.

Saint Croix said...

Does Kasich have a secret alliance?
With the bad man with the finance?
As questions go, it's not too deep
Sue me, I want to be veep!

Guimo said...

Trudy Roth
Knits well she doth
Until a slub
Makes her flub.

Saint Croix said...

Saint Croix says, "okay, wash my feet."
Although I got cracks and other faults to tweet
Saint Croix is brave, he has no fear
Although he did chicken out last year

Saint Croix said...

Dog is good, dog is nice
Dog will protect you from Vanilla Ice
Big dog, small dog, all dogs good
Dog will rescue you if he could

Beta Rube said...

Barack Obama
Voyaged on a tour ship
Of perpetual self worship

BarrySanders20 said...

Hillary Clinton
Deserves a stint in
Prison, for her lies.
A waddling criminal enterprise!

Christopher Barr said...

Donald J. Trump
Stood on a stump
Throwing a fit
And shoveling shit.

Curious George said...

Professor Ann Althouse
Larry’s her spouse.
He helps her with blogging
And the sink when clogging

Clyde said...

Donald J. Trump,
Like him or lump,
Wants to build a huge wall;
We'll find out this fall.

Karen of Texas said...

Professor Ann
Says yes you can
Comment here don'cha know
And please through the Amazon portal go.

Curious George said...

Professor Ann Althouse
Larry’s her spouse.
She writes a blog.
He walks the dog.

BarrySanders20 said...

Pajama Boy
Didn't get that toy
He wanted- that's not fair!
Instead he got Obamacare:(

BarrySanders20 said...

Had a need
Like an Internet stalker,
To post, many times, "Stand With Governor Walker"

Saint Croix said...

Dog is messy, dog is fuss
In the parlor leaves a muss
Some people are so contrary!
For instance, that bitch Mary

Saint Croix said...

Mitch McConnell, he's the man!
Gives the Brennan clerk the back of his hand
Nominate somebody who will read and follow
Or so help us, the seat stays hollow

Meade said...

Alt house
Is a very fine gardener's spouse
When cats come in the yard
She shoo's them from the chard

Meade said...

Bronson Koenig
had to rein in
his nerves for the sake of his team
Deep in the corner just net at the buzzer and presto! the Badgers — Sweet Sixteen

Meade said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Meade said...

Mr. L. J. Spatula
ever the bachelor
Asked where'd the bodies go?
Says simply "I am Laslo"

Cath said...

Good Sir Archie
His language was starchy.
I propose him this toast:
Sir, I miss you the most.

tim in vermont said...

Damn smartphone spell check ruined my pun.

Donald J Trump
Put the proles in a lump
Has mastered the podium
To broadcast his odium.