Thursday, November 4, 2021

Some clerihews by W. H. Auden


Edward Lear
Was haunted by the fear
While traveling in Albania
Of contracting kleptomania.


Louis Pasteur
So his colleagues aver,
Lived on excellent terms
With most of his germs.


No one could ever inveigle
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
Into offering the slightest apology
For his Phenomenology.


When the young Kant
Was told to kiss his aunt,
He obeyed the Categorical Must,
But only just.


Charles Dickens
Could find nothing to say to chickens,
But gossiping with rabbits
Became one of his habits. 

W. H. Auden's series of clerihews appears first in Homage to Clio, but then with illustrations by Filippo Sanjust in Academic Graffiti. That's Sanjust's drawing above of Dickens/with rabbits and chickens. The chickens look rather offended to me.

The clerihew form was invented by E. C. (Edmund Clerihew) Bentley (1875-1956), also author of the mystery series featuring Philip Trent, the first of which is Trent's Last Case. (The last shall be first?) Since we're here...I can't resist quoting my favorite Clerihew clerihew:

George the Third
Ought never to have occurred.
One can only wonder
At so grotesque a blunder.

And, oh heck, it's catching...

Edmund Clerihew Bentley
acted most irreverently,
like he was one of the playahs
with Dorothy L. Sayahs.
Or supply your own concluding couplet! 😜


  1. blogging by the book
    requires a spectral look
    writing a perfect post's
    like visiting a ghost
    (heehee). poor but mine own..

  2. These are so great! Thanks for the laugh. :D

    1. Glad you enjoyed 'em--and it's only a selection!

  3. If I had to predict, I'd've suspected that chickens would have been better gossipers. Likely some foul publicity there.

    1. Ha, ha!

      But the rabbits probably know who's been sleeping with whom. And the chickens, well, they're a bit cooped up!

  4. This is the kind of "poetry" I like. It rhymes and makes sense (in a nonsensical way).

    Jessica Simpson
    Knows where shrimps swim
    But isn’t quite solid
    On where chickens might frolic.

    1. A good one!

      I admit to preferring poetry that rhymes and is comprehensible, but then:

      "I, too, dislike it: there are things that are important beyond all this fiddle/but reading it with a perfect contempt for it, one discovers that there is in/it, after all, a place for the genuine."

      I don't know that Marianne Moore would disagree!

  5. I have Trent's Last Case which I haven't read yet.
    Tried writing a couple on authors I've read recently. A bit lame...

    Edith Wharton
    Was almost forgoton
    For those who read her books with passion
    Fortunately she's back in fashion.

    Elizabeth von Arnim
    Wrote on subjects quite alarmin'
    At least for her time
    If not for mine.

    1. Ha, no, those are fun! I especially like the Elizabeth von Arnim. Von Arnim/alarmin'--that's great!

  6. These are excellent! So much fun to read.

    1. It just seems to be the week for fun poetry!