Saturday, 23 November 2013

The Clerihew

These five short poems are Clerihews, from the four-line biographical form invented by Edmund Clerihew Bentley. The first line of a Clerihew contains the name of the poem's subject, usually a famous person, and the remainder of the poem describes the subject in a mildly comical light. The rhyme scheme is AABB, with the rhymes often being forced, while the line length and meter are irregular. Bentley invented the Clerihew in school and then popularised it in books. One of his more famous Clerihews involves the philosopher, John Stuart Mill, which provided the inspiration for these examples.

Mr. David Hume,
unwilling, though we must assume,
bequeathed what was more than a smidgeon
of an empiricist's views on Natural Religion.

The scholar, David Hume
was a thinker deep, of whom
it's often been said, he couldn't quite see
that what there is, ought of necessity to be.

James Frederick Ferrier,
by nature a bit of a terrier,
went up to Magdalen College,
where he penned his Theory of Knowledge.

The Reverend Thomas Reid,
enlightened man of moral creed,
had North-east roots, of course from whence
he conceived the Principles of Common Sense.

Adam Smith; Kirkaldy, Fife,
a thrifty man throughout his life,
transcended Oxford's expectations
and wrote a clever textbook on The Wealth of Nations.