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Friday, May 27, 2005

About Clerihews

cler·i·hew (klr-hy) NOUN:
A humorous verse, usually consisting of two unmatched rhyming couplets, about a person whose name generally serves as one of the rhymes. ETYMOLOGY: After Edmund Clerihew Bentley (1875-1956), British writer

G. K. Chesterton called it a “severe and stately form of free verse”, but then he had been a close friend from schooldays of the man who invented it, Edmund Bentley. Indeed, Chesterton illustrated the first book of whimsical verses, Biography for Beginners, which Bentley published in 1905 under the name of E. Clerihew.

The first clerihew, which Edmund Bentley is said to have composed during a boring science class at St Paul’s School, was:

Sir Humphry Davy
Abominated gravy.
He lived in the odium
Of having discovered sodium.

Another example:

Sir Christopher Wren
Said, “I am going to dine with some men.
If anyone calls
Say I am designing St. Paul’s.”

Bentley is also known for his mystery novel, Trent's Last Case (1911), which helped make plot and character as important as the puzzle in English detective fiction.

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