Wednesday, 6 May 2009

The Complete Clerihews

"The Complete Clerihews'.' by E.C. Bentley A Review
Sir Christopher Wren
Said, "I am going to dine with some men.
If anybody calls
Say I am designing St Paul's
The above is a clerihew; it is a verse form which Francis Stillman described as "a humorous pseudo-biographical quatrain rhymed as two couplets. It is short and pithy." This book is a collection of all the clerihews written by the creator of the form, Edmund Clerihew Bentley. Apart from writing clerihews, E.C. Bentley is best known for his cunning variation on the detective novel, "Trent's Last Case".
It is difficult to choose, but I think that my favourite clerihew is the following:
Although Machiavelli
Was extremely fond of jelly
He stuck religiously to mince
While he was writing "The Prince".
The book is also fortunate in that it has (reprinted) the original illustrations by Nicholas Bentley, G.K. Chesterton, Victor Reinganum, and E.C. Bentley himself. These delightful sketches, along the lines of caricature, exactly complement the wit of the clerihews.
Altogether, this book is an extremely amusing and literate diversion which one can dip into at the odd moment.

As a postscript - the American Chesterton Society has launched a blog challenge to come up with a clerihew on swine flu! Here are some of the more amusing entries:

A biologist suffering from swine flu
Shrugged: "Such things are not new.
The fit survive - that's evolution;
If only my lab could evolve a solution."

Dr. Richard E. Besser
A pandemic assessor
Said of the Swine Flu
Try curing it with a Clerihew

Can the swine flu
beget a clerihew
which will lyrically
spread epidemically?


1 comment:

WordWrangler said...

Great post! I posted a clerihew contest on my blog a couple of days ago, too. I'll check out the contest you posted.