Become a Clerihew Master: Tips for Writing a Clerihew Poem

Become a Clerihew Master Tips for Writing a Clerihew Poem _ imagine forest

Interested in finding out a way to become a comic and a poet at the same time? Get ready to write hilarious poetry by learning how to become a Clerihew Master. Think of a clerihew as a limerick’s cousin, except clerihews are shorter and have fewer rules, so they are even more amusing and easy to create! Keep reading to find out how you can become an expert in the art of perfecting pleasing poetic prose. Learning how to write new styles of poetry is a great way to acquire new skills and become a better writer. The more you practice, the better you’ll get, and with enough practice, you can become a clerihew master!

What is a Clerihew?

Clerihews are short, biographical poems that are designed to poke fun at someone gently—often a celebrity or another famous public figure—in an unusual, kind-hearted, and humorous way.

This comic, poetic style is only four lines long, so clerihews are relatively easy to write and are extremely quick to read. Here’s an example:

George Washington was a great guy,
Who could not tell a lie.
As the first President of the United States,
He rarely had the time to take his wife on dinner dates.

Clerihews are a great way to express yourself. Part of what makes this style of poetry so much fun is that it is a short, joke-like, opportunity to poke fun at somebody everyone knows in a friendly type of way. Is there a celebrity who drives you crazy or a historical figure you’ve read about who had a wild life? Go ahead and try writing a clerihew about them.

What is a Clerihew?

Clerihews are short, biographical poems that are designed to poke fun at someone gently—often a celebrity or another famous public figure—in an unusual, kind-hearted, and humorous way.

This comic, poetic style is only four lines long, so clerihews are relatively easy to write and are extremely quick to read. Here’s an example:

George Washington was a great guy,
Who could not tell a lie.
As the first President of the United States,
He rarely had the time to take his wife on dinner dates.

Clerihews are a great way to express yourself. Part of what makes this style of poetry so much fun is that it is a short, joke-like, opportunity to poke fun at somebody everyone knows in a friendly type of way. Is there a celebrity who drives you crazy or a historical figure you’ve read about who had a wildlife? Go ahead and try writing a clerihew about them.

Who Invented it?

First introduced in 1905, we owe the creation of the clerihew style of poetry to Edmund Clerihew Bentley. Mr. Bentley was a famous English novelist, humorist, and inventor during the nineteenth century. In search of a comical way to make fun of famous people during his lifetime, Mr. Bentley came up with the idea of the clerihew poem.  These short, humorous poems have been around for many years and have been written by many famous authors.

What are the Clerihew Rules?

Clerihews are short and straightforward, and they do not have many rules. Clerihews are great because they give you the chance to use your creativity to express yourself in a fun and entertaining way. Let’s go over the guidelines that you need to follow to create a clerihew:

  • 4 lines. All clerihews are four lines, nothing less, nothing more.
  • The first line is important. Regardless of who you are writing your clerihew about, his or her name needs to make an appearance somewhere in the first line of the poem.
  • AABB Rhyming Pattern. Clerihews are fun to write because they follow an easy AABB rhyming scheme. For this pattern, the second and first lines need to rhyme together, and the third and fourth lines must also rhyme with each other. For example, in the following clerihew, “pan” and “clan” are the AA that rhymes together, and “boy” and “toy” are the BB.

There once was a boy named Peter Pan,
In Neverland he had a clan.
He always remained a very young boy,
Who loved to play with any toy.

  • Strong rhythm and lines of varying length. The line length for this style of poetry is entirely up to you. Some of the best clerihews have a pace that is bouncy thanks to a mix of short and long line lengths. Notice the poetic flow in this example from Mr. E.C. Bentley:

The people of Spain think Cervantes
Equal to a half-dozen Dantes:
An opinion resented most bitterly
By the people of Italy.

How Should I Start?

The easiest way to start writing clerihews is to begin by writing one about yourself! Think of something that is unique about you or something that you think you wouldn’t mind being teased about.

Writing a clerihew about yourself will help give you a good idea of what information to put in the poems you go on to write about other people. Once you’ve successfully written a clerihew about yourself, get more practice by writing another one about your teacher or a close friend that has a great sense of humor.

Keep in mind that clerihews are only four lines, so they don’t take long to write and are not full of complex information. With just a few minutes of work, you are sure to be on your way to creating fun and hysterical poetry.

Clerihews are Fun

Remember that clerihews are meant to be fun. When writing your poems, you should always keep the feelings of others in mind, and should not write anything that would hurt someone’s feelings or make them feel upset. Your clerihews should also be accurate and only contain relevant statements. Use your creativity to exaggerate things comically, but you should never lie or make up information to create enjoyable poetry.

When writing a clerihew, the goal is to make your audience smile. Think of jokes that are light-hearted and sweet. You don’t ever want to cause people to feel that you are laughing at them and not with them. Always put yourself in the place of the person who you are writing about in your poem. Would any of the things you have written make you upset if they were about you? If not, then you’ve probably created a great clerihew!

Get ready to start practising writing some clerihews! Once you’ve written a few, and feel comfortable enough, start sharing your poems with friends and family members—and be sure to share the poem that you created about yourself!

It’s fun to share your work with people who are already familiar with clerihews, but it can be even more fun to teach someone your new poetic skills. When teaching others about clerihews, make sure to thoroughly go over all of the rules, and then challenge your family, friends, and classmates to create some poems of their own.

Have you written a clerihew poem? You can share your poem in the comments below with us!