Saturday, July 10, 2010

July 10: Clerihew Day

Edward Oz
Writes everyday because
English never fails to amaze
Just read today's post on Word Daze

Today is the birthday of Edmund Clerihew Bentley whose middle name became a form of light verse.

Bentley made a name for himself with a classic work of detective fiction called Trent's Last Case, but he is best known for the four-line verse form that bears his middle name: the clerihew.

The clerihew is a biographical form that begins with the subject's name (or at least contains the name in the first line). It is made up of two rhyming couplets (thus the rhyme scheme is AABB). The only other requirement of the form is that it should be light hearted or humorous.

Bentley's Biography for Beginners, published in 1905, was his first collection of verse. He followed this up with additional volumes of verse in 1929 and 1939.

Here are a couple of examples of Bentley's clerihews:

Edward the Confessor
Slept under the dresser.
When that began to pall,
He slept in the hall.

The art of Biography
Is different from Geography.
Geography is about maps,
But Biography is about chaps.

Today's Challenge: Terse Verse

Try writing your own clerihews.

-Write one about a friend, and use in a birthday card.
-Write about someone in the news.
-Write an autobiographical one as your epitaph.
-Write one about your favorite fictional character.

Examples written by Edward Oz:

Samuel Backman
Took on Superman.
It was a long night.
He forgot his Kryptonite.

Prince Hamlet was sad
Because his uncle killed his dad.
He talked to his father's ghost after dark.
Something's rotten in the state of Denmark.

Word of the Day: Terse (Adjective): Brief and to the point; effectively concise.

Quote of the Day: The art of biography is different from geography. Geography is about maps, but biography is about chaps. -Edward Clerihew Bentley

1 - Brandreth, Gyles. The Book of Classic Puzzles and Word Games. London: Chancellor Press, 1985.

2 - Holman, C. Hugh and William Harmon. A Handbook to Literature (Sixth Edition). New York: Macmillian, 1992.

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