Write Me a Clerihew

I love writing for many reasons, but one of the most important reasons is because it’s fun. Now and again I stumble upon something that reminds me of this fun factor. Just over a year ago I heard about clerihew. It’s a poem of sort, a few quick, rhyming lines that are intended to bring a smile to the reader.


What is a clerihew?

A clerihew consists of four lines, the first rhyming with the second and the third with the fourth. They are usually short with a little twist at the end. They’re written about famous or well-known people. The meter doesn’t matter.


The clerihew was created by Edward Clerihew Bentley (1875-1956). Apparently, he was a sixteen-year-old boy in science class when the first one formed in his head:


Sir Humphry Davy

Was not fond of gravy.

He lived in the odium

Of having discovered sodium.


He published the best-known clerihew in 1905 in his first of three volumes of clerihews, Biography for Beginners:


Sir Christopher Wren

Said, “I am going to dine with some men.

If anyone calls

Say I am designing St. Paul’s.”


Naturally, when I discovered this fun little poem style, I had to write my own:


Silly me, I thought it was understood.

There’s limited quality to Ronald’s food.

Those who eat it shouldn’t run it down.

After all, they trusted their meal to a clown.


Rodney MacDonald got his wayToggenburg Buck

and made Nova Scotians work every day.

Canada Day, Christmas and Labour Day, too.

I’ve a list of nasty thoughts, Rodney, all for you.


Rascal McTaz has a beard and a bell

When he’s in runt he’s got a keen smell.

He’ll stick out his nose and run for a mile

Or maybe he’ll stick around to make you smile.


Can you write a clerihew in five minutes?

6 thoughts on “Write Me a Clerihew

  1. In a word, No.

    My mind isn’t that quick. I enjoyed reading yours though.

    But can you believe that when you mentioned good old Rodney, I had to stop for a second to think who you meant..Dear God…That’s just sad…. What is wrong with me? lol


    • Actually, I’m not surprised. For many, Rodney didn’t leave a lasting impression, unlike John Hamm – he had the best ties!

      Sometimes my mind thinks too fast and my mouth tries to share what it comes up with before I have to time to think of the consequences. I wish my foot was faster to muffle the words. 🙂


    • Thanks, Christi. My son (age 9) gets a real kick out of saying clerihew with a Scottish accent. He’s quite good at it. One day, I was listening to an add on the radio and burst out laughing. The first words out of the woman’s mouth were: I’m Clara Hughs. In my mind, I heard clerihew in a very Scottish accent. I love the word, too.


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