Clerihews *

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* Definition & examples taken from Wordgames in the Atlantic Monthly by Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon.

The clerihew is a bit of rhyming doggerel invented by Edmund Clerihew Bentley (1875-1956). Traditionally, it's a four-line verse made up of two rhyming couplets, with meter intentionally (often ridiculously) irregular. Its purpose is to offer a satiric or absurd biography of a famous person. Here are three of Bentley's own creations:

Sir Humphrey Davy
Detested gravy.
He lived in the odium
Of having discovered sodium.
George the Third
Ought never to have occurred.
One can only wonder
At so grotesque a blunder.
Sir Christopher Wren
Said, "I'm going to dine with some men.
If anyone calls,
Say I'm designing St. Paul's."


Here are some I wrote a few years ago...
Some are about people relatively famous, such as Howard Gardner or Charles Darwin. Others are about friends and colleagues (or faculty members I knew when in graduate school). Clearly I see this as being good clean fun with no offense directed towards anybody.
Rand J. Spiro
Munched upon a gyro
As he pondered matters hefty
Regarding Cognitive Flexibility
Howard Gardner
with his pardner
Straddled many fences
With his theory of Multiple Intelligences
Richard C. Anderson
Had a lot of fun
When he was leading
The Center for the Study of Reading
William F. Brewer
Said he had found a cure
With his research at Emory
On the nature of human memory
William F. Brewer
Said that he was sure
People would love to buy
The license plate of his car: Cog Sci
Beena Choksi
Said I'll have a look-see
At how I can shirk
All this social-work.
Margery Osborne
Heaped her scorn
On those that took apart
The beauties inherent in science and art
Chip Bruce
Said, It's a cheap ruse
And a tautology
To think simplistically about technology
Greg Jahiel
Said I have set sail
On making my first million
Helping kids out at Carle Pavilion
Kim Nguyen
Said, "I've discovered Smullyan
Though I do wonder how
People like him follow the Tao?"
Punya Mishra
Laughed Ha Ha Ha
As he watched movies on cable
Instead of working on his Periodic Table.
Soham Mishra
Shouted out, "KA!"
Shocking the local constabulary
With his limited vocabulary.
Dimitry Mendeleev
While leaving Kiev
Sent an urgent wireless cable
"Tell them I've discovered the Periodic Table"
Charles Darwin
Pondered the nature of original sin
His theory which many regarded as being clunky
Said man evolved from the monkey
Charles Darwin
Threw creationism in the dustbin
Causing a furious reaction
With his theory of Natural Selection
Salman Rushdie
Just wanted to be
But peace he wasn't to have any
When a fatwa was declared on him by Khomeni
Sonit Bafna
To marriage said, na! na!
Till ofcourse the bright smile of Sudha he espied
I want, he shouted, her, and just her, as my bride.
Scott Kim
On a whim
created quite a diversion
by creating an inversion
Douglas R. Hofstadter
Said I can do much better
at this clerihew thing, though impractical,
by making this clerihew self-referential and tautological
Rene Descartes
put the horse before de 'cart
By doubting everything ad infinitum
And ending it with cogito ergo sum
Yong Zhao
Didn’t ask how
When told to drink beer
Or program with Frontier
© punya mishra

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