clerihew is a whimsical, four-line biographical poem invented by Edmund Clerihew Bentley, at age 16.
A clerihew has the following properties:
  • It is biographical and usually whimsical, showing the subject from an unusual point of view; it pokes fun at mostly famous people
  • It has 4 lines of irregular length and metre (for comic effect)
  • The rhyme structure is aabb; the subject matter and wording are often humorously contrived in order to achieve a rhyme, including the use of phrases in Latin, French and other non-English Languages[2]
  • The first line contains, and may consist solely of, the subject’s name.
Clerihews are not satirical or abusive, but they target famous individuals and reposition them in an absurd, anachronistic or commonplace setting, often giving them an over-simplified and slightly garbled description (similar to the schoolboy style of 1066 and All That)
The unbalanced and unpolished poetic meter and line length parody the limerick, and the clerihew in form also parodies the eulogy.
Note:  I have found that many what have been presented as Clerihew  have not been
rigorous about the first line name-rhyming.  Indeed I have not.  I have also tended
to use a fixed meter.  They can be fun, but we must remind ourselves they are not
formally Clerihew and should be labeled accordingly when attempting a rigorous interpretation.
Example Poems
Bruce  (Clerihew)
Bruce Willis continues alive,
Now showing Die Hard number five.
I’m a Bruce Willis junky, sure.
He is my Schwarzenegger cure.
Arnie    (Clerihew)
If Schwarzenegger tries once more
his movie ceiling’s near the floor.
A machine using Arnie’s voice
looks to be a desperate choice.
© Lawrencealot – October 21, 2012
Visual Template
Note:  there can be no definitive template for this form for meter and
line length are irregular.  This is merely one example.