Poetry is a broad artistic pursuit. There are many forms, styles, and qualities. Poets come in all sizes, shapes, and accomplishments. There are poems which posses little hope of being mistaken for great literature… but still may offer a little smirk. For me the limerick often does the trick. The clerihew comes fast on the heels in this category. I happened upon the clerihew once, but for some unremembered reason didn’t grasp their potential. Recently happened upon them again at a blog by a fellow curmudgeon in England – Quercuscommunity . The curious can read more about clerihews here
The concept of the clerihew is quite simple (perhaps the reason I can manage it)… you tell a short story about a person, typically naming said person at the end of line one. Use four lines with a rhyme pattern of AABB. Short and sweet seems to be preferred.
Recent events across the pond with the Royal family inspired me to pen this one:
Her highness Elizabeth
A family to deal with
Red in tooth and claw
[this was published as a comment at quercuscommunity, and my thanks to him for letting me steal it back]…
I have a handful more to offer:
Lesson learned? On the one hand you might just make up a clerihew for the sport of it. But I think a case can be made to pen clerihews for their mnemonic value – such as the one on Pliny the Elder… or the Wright brothers whose fame at Kitty Hawk is more easily recalled, but Kill Devil Hills earlier in their history proved a laboratory worth remembering.
It hasn’t escaped my notice that with very little effort one can pen a limerick easily from a clerihew by appending one more line to rhyme with the first two (AABBA).
Why not a clerihew for Janathan Swift, or Lemuel Gulliver? Working on them. I feel a certain extra effort may be necessary there. I think I’ve seen one for Swift, and of course I’d be happy to see offerings left as comments here.
Credit for the featured image – a cartoon by Sidney Harris that was published in the New York Times.