Thursday, May 8, 2014

Clerihew from underground (for Marly Youmans)

Nikolai Chernyshevsky
said to Dostoyevsky,
"So what's to be done
with Anton Chekhov's gun?"

Is that sufficiently awful? I can try again.


  1. Hah, you tricked me! I should have thought to say that you can't rhyme "Chernyshevsky" with "Dostoyevsky"! Edmund Clerihew Bentley would probably disqualify you for not coming up with a multi-word rhyme for "Cheryshevsky."

    However, I like it with all the names...

    "Sufficiently awful." I think part of the point of clerihews is that they be awful, though Auden and Hollander wrote some. Most of the ones you see online are not attributed to an author, though maybe it's because people don't admit to committing clerihews.

    Clerihew frolics--

    Sir James Dewar
    Is smarter than you are
    None of you asses
    Can liquify gases.

    Here's one with wacky rhyme--

    Desiderius Erasmus
    Suffered from one of the rare asthmas.
    His worst wheezes
    Were caused by over-ripe cheeses.

    This one pops up a lot, and I like it:

    John Stuart Mill,
    By a mighty effort of will,
    Overcame his natural bonhomie
    And wrote Principles of Political Economy.

    And this:

    Moses Maimonides
    wrote vast quantities
    and stood for amity
    in an age of Kalamity.


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

    Lord Byron
    Once succumbed to a Siren:
    His flesh was weak,
    Hers Greek.

  2. Oh, see, those are good poems. I had no idea. I also don't know what I meant by "sufficiently awful." Maybe I assumed the expectations for a poem by Bailey would be as low as possible! As you see, I can make rhyming couplets, but I'm not so good at making them into a poem. But here's another try:

    Nikolai Chernyshevsky:
    To him I raise a glass of whiskey
    What was his reward for freeing dear Olga?
    Eight years on the Volga

    I can't seem to break free of blocky, foursquare construction.

    1. Haha! "Chernyshevsky" does rhyme in a drunken, slant way with "glass of whiskey" that I find funny!

      If it were mine, I'd cut "What was" and "dear." Maybe even turn it into an address with "you" and "your" instead of "him" and "his."

      But I like the first one two, even though it cheats!

    2. AAAAAGH! First one TOO, please.

    3. I actually added the "what was" and "dear" to break up the regularity of the line lengths. So you see how little I know what I'm doing here. Poetry is so much out of my depths.

      The only other rhyme for "Chernyshevsky" I can think of is "Nevsky," but that also seems like cheating.

    4. It is like cheating! But go ahead--the clerihew started as a schoolboy prank. I think clerihews can be full of awkwardness, but I like that line as a pithy, trochaic one. I'm going to have to post a link-post to your clerihewishness.

  3. One clerihew that i like - and wish I could lay claim to it - is:

    Carl Gustav Jung
    Was well hung,
    A fact that annoyed
    Sigmund Freud.

    1. Sigmund S. Freud
      was often annoyed
      by the fact that his smokes
      were the butt of lewd jokes.

      (stolen from here)