Clerihew (Poetry)


Sir Humphrey Davy

Abominated Gravy

He lived in the odium

Of having discovered sodium.

by Edmund C. Bentley

Post 6: National Poetry Month 2015

Edmund Clerihew Bentley (1875- 1956) invented this poetry form as a teen, at 16. A Victorian boy bored in  science class at St. Paul’s School, London and his classmates G.K. Chesterton joined in the fun. I wonder what this particular teacher thought of such creation in his class [if he ever found out].

It is comical in nature, reminding me of a Limerick but the more Clerihews I read, it feels like it brushes on the poetry form:  Eulogy. The rhyming scheme is aabb with two couplets. Usually in the rhyme, you meet a famous person/character in the first line. The lines are of no particular length and no regular meter standard. I guess it is that aspect which creates the comedy.

According to  Carol Fisher, children enjoy Clerihew because it is a rhymed poetry. She further explains that children with little poetry experience usually writes meaningless lines or a nonsense verse. I guess, this aspect would enable them to pen comical lines.


Bentley, Edmund Clerihew. Biography for Beginners [ebook]. Courier Corporation, 2014.

Fisher, Carol J. “Writing Poetry: Children Can Do It.” National Conference on the Language Arts in the Elementary School., 1975. 11-13.

Lipson, Greta Barclay. Poetry Writing Handbook. Teaching & Learning Company, 1998.

Poetry, Shadow. Clerihew. March 2000. April 2015 <;.

Stearns, Rollin. “Clerihews: A Personal History.” Word Ways: Vol. 41: Iss. 1, Article 5 February 2008: .


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