NATIONAL CLERIHEW DAY
July 10th of each year celebrates National Clerihew Day in the United States. Edmund Clerihew Bentley created the whimsical, four-line biographical poem.
An English novelist and humorist, Edmund Clerihew Bentley (July 10, 1875 – March 30, 1956), was a 16-year-old student when he thought up the lines for his first ever clerihew.
Sir Humphry Davy
He lived in the odium
Of having discovered sodium
As with most poetry, the Clerihew is defined by a set of rules. It must contain four lines, rhyming couplets of AA/BB, a person’s name in the first line, say something about that person and it should be humorous. It is meant to be a funny poem, of course.
The genre of poetry wasn’t limited to Bentley. Other poets wrote and published in form as well, and still do.
- A Cluster of Clerihews by Gavin Ewart
- Excuse My Clerihews by William Hazell
- The Lost Clerihews of Paul Ingram by Paul Ingram (Though they don’t really seem lost, I guess they once were.)
Like limericks, poets poke fun at people real and imagined. As with any humor, it’s meant to draw a chuckle from the reader as well as the subject of the poem. If you can’t laugh at yourself and you’re the subject of a clerihew, it’s probably better not to read it. If you’re writing a clerihew about someone who can’t take a joke, maybe don’t write the clerihew. Or, write it about not being able to take a joke.
Nelly Belly ha ha
Danced to Lady GaGa.
Fell on her bum.
Cried in her rum.
HOW TO OBSERVE NATIONAL CLERIHEW DAY
On National Clerihew Day, try writing a clerihew or two of your own! Post on social media using #NationalClerihewDay.
HISTORY OF NATIONAL CLERIHEW DAY
The day is observed annually on the anniversary of Edmund Clerihew Bentley’s birth, July 10th.
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