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NATIONAL CLERIHEW DAY – July 10

NATIONAL CLERIHEW DAY

On July 10th of each year, National Clerihew Day in the United States celebrates a poem style created by Edmund Clerihew Bentley. His four-line biographical poem offers a brief, though whimsical, approach to poetry.

An English novelist and humorist, Edmund Clerihew Bentley (July 10, 1875 – March 30, 1956), created the first-ever Clerihew at the age of 16.

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

As with most poetry, the Clerihew is defined by a set of rules. It must:

  • Include four lines.
  • Contain rhyming couplets of AA/BB.
  • Include a person’s name in the first line.
  • Say something about that person.
  • 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 this 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, the Clerihew draws 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 #NationalClerihewDay

Write a Clerihew or of your own! Explore the world of Clerihews, too. You might find the entertainment worth celebrating! Post on social media using #NationalClerihewDay.

NATIONAL CLERIHEW DAY HISTORY

The day is observed annually on the anniversary of Edmund Clerihew Bentley’s birth, July 10th.


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July 10th Celebrated (and Not So Celebrated) History

1925

William Jennings Bryan and Clarence Darrow begin arguments in the Scopes Trial. Darrow was part of the defense team for John Scopes, a science school teacher who continued to teach evolution despite a recent Tennessee law making it illegal.

1962

Swedish engineer Nils Bohlen receives U.S. Patent No. 3,043,625 for the three-point seat belt.

1965

The Rolling Stones’ single “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” becomes the rock band’s first chart-topper in the United States.

1991

Russia swears in its first elected president, Boris Yeltsin.

July 10th Celebrated (and Not So Celebrated) Birthday

Nikola Tesla – 1856

In 1890, the Serbian-American left a legacy of invention behind including patent No. 428,057 for an electric generator. Though he died poor, his interest in AC current launched a revolution in the world of electric motors.

Mary McLeod Bethune – 1875

The American educator, advocate and civil servant advised four U.S. presidents during her long career. She also served on numerous projects, committees, and boards including the National Council of Negro Women, Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps (WAACS) and Women Appointed for Voluntary Emergency Service (WAVES). Education being at the center of everything she did, Bethune also established the Mary McLeod Bethune Foundation.

Eunice Kennedy Shriver – 1921

In 1968, the American philanthropist founded the Special Olympics. Leading up to this pivotal moment, Eunice Shriver through the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation helps establish programs, studies and summer camps focused on those with intellectual disabilities.

Arthur Ashe – 1943

After becoming the first African American recruited to the U.S. Davis Cup team in 1963, Ashe would go on to become the first male African American to win the U.S. Open (1968)(1970) and Wimbledon (1975). Another first came five years after his 1980 retirement; he became the first male African American inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

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