Sep 27, 2011

A Clerihew tag roundup and a challenge

Last week, I learnt not one but two new words in a day. The first one was Luddite and the second was Clerihew. Both are nouns and are associated with the British. Loosely defined Luddite translates to anyone who is opposed to the industrial change or innovation in their daily life. The word was introduced to me by none other than the witty Ms SplitPearPersonality who has decided to merge her blogging self with the facebooking Ann. She reserves her wit now for her family, friends and co-workers on fb and blogs no more.

A couple of hours after I had excitedly twitted about the addition of a new word to my vocabulary, Richa Ma, another blogger who has abandoned her blog for reasons I do not know, introduced me to Clerihew. I penned one in haste and then tagged a couple of friends, who in turn tagged some more... you get the idea.  It was mayhem after that with everybody tagging everybody else.  This post is an attempt to compile some of them. If you have friends who put them up and I missed them, let me know and I will add them here.

For those of you who do not know who or what a Clerihew is, here is a true short story on its origins:
In the year 1928, a young lad of age sixteen named Edmund Clerhew Bentley sat in the back of his science class and day dreamed. His name was not unusual for his time and contrary to what you may think, no one made fun of it or him. On one particular rainy day, when the air in the classroom was muggy and his professor’s voice was droning, Edumund was thinking about Humphry Davy, that rare combination of poet and chemist. Not unlike the man he was thinking about, Edmund too had a lyrical bend of mind and he came up with this:

Sir Humphry Davy
Was not fond of gravy,
He lived in the odium
Of having discovered sodium.

Excited to have discovered a fun way to while away his time in tedious classrooms, Edmund got together with his friends, formally charted a few rudimentary rules and named his four line form of writing Clerihew.

Here are the rules as put down by Edmund Clerihew himself and followed to this day by those who are struck with inspiration to pen down rhyming quartet lines.

1. The first line contains the name of the person the Clerihew is about. It could be just the name or the name in a line, but it must contain a name.

2. The rhyming four lines need to rhyme and this requisite often times makes for humorous Clerihews.

3. It is usually biographical and shows a person from a different POV or in a funny, whimsical life.

With these basic, simple rules in mind, my fb friends, all of them talented bloggers in their own right, put on their rhyming caps and came up with amusing Clerihews that would have given the original Clerihew a run for his money, or maybe not. I haven’t read all of his works so I can’t say.

So here’s a roundup of the ones I could assemble from the new face of facebook:

Richa Ma, who used to blog at As Dear as Salt, came up with a whole bunch of them. I will put a couple of those down here:

There is this girl named Rich
For her blog all day she takes pictures of her sandwich
While the family waits impatiently for the goodies
She is busy photoshopping pictures for her blog buddies.

She then wrote two more with which we can all relate to:

She calls herself Ms. Ma

Daily dose of Bhel puri, Sev puri on her agenda
Nothing bothers her ever
But taking away her internet time, Oh Brother!!!!!!

Ms. Ma getting ready for a Buffet,
Twenty dishes, said the pamphlet
The Buffet looked Wow
Then she remembered swamiji's words - Don't graze like a Cow!

Sra’s soup comes alive a few times a month and she leaves her readers satiated with her brilliant word play and witty observations. Needless to say, her Clerihews were brilliant though with her first two attempts she made a subset of Clerihew which I am naming a Sralihew or a limerick.

There was a girl called Sra
Who wanted to see a chupacabra
She did get a view of it good
Narrowly escaping becoming its food
‘Twas all God’s abracadabra!

There is a girl called Sra
Who desperately wants abracadbra
All she wants to do,
Is chill out, travel and write without much ado
And not wait for her retirement era!

The third time around, Sra decided she wanted to play by the rules and came up with this:

Sra had to write a clerihew
Phew, but of what hue?
Grass so green, roses so red
Her gardening skills went to her head!

Then tired of all the attention on herself, she decided to do one on a man named Sheen (Charlie?):

There was a man called Sheen
And nowhere was he to be seen
Invisible man, where are you?
Right here, in a cloak of dew

Aparna, from that diverse kitchen of hers decided to put down the ladles and the spoons for a while and pen down a rhyme. She enjoyed it so much, she came up with not one but three!

I'm Aparna, a Jill of many trades and a Mom,

I also blog food from behind a Pom,
Enjoy looking at life through my bits of glass,
And have discovered what is greener on the other side, sometimes IS grass!

Aparna once went to a clerihew party,
Where the games with words got a bit hearty,
She jumped into the fray without a chance in hell,
For the fun of it all, even though defeat she could smell! ;-D

Aparna Balasubramanian - to some my name can be a bit of a twister,
Perhaps give their tongues a blister,
Should I get myself another I sometimes wonder?
Except that Groutadge, Squatzengetzit, Enyursoop would be a blunder!

She promises the one below is her last Clerihew but I have trust in the addictive powers of Clerihew. There might be a fifth one already brewing as this post is being written.

There was this guy - Edmund Clerihew Bentley,
Who often used words to make fun of the famous, apparently;
Tried it myself to see what the hoo-haa was all about,
Found my inner poet (not), and realise its an addiction I can do without! :D

Harini, who tickles our tongues with her vegan creations, decided to jump into the fray and came up with a gem of her own.

“Harini as in hurry?”
I pause a-while and say, “sorry?”
“You are wee, busy as a bee,
always in a hurry, hence the query!”

Susan, who is well known for her legume love affair as well as her well seasoned cooking skills, was not left far behind. She composed a dark Clerihew too but decided to keep it hidden for another time. For now, here is her lighter Clerihew:

Susan refuses to keep time by the clock,
perhaps that explains why her neck's on the block.
Setting an alarm would keep her in check,
but if I know her, she would say "what the heck?"

As the tagging on fb progressed, everyone’s favorite Bong Moms joined in.  First came the BongMom who prefers to stay anonymous and blog about her cookbook. Her not-so-hidden talent is writing food fiction and she used that well in her Clerihew creations.

BongMom is a crazy female
Who loves her fish and ale
With a "Bong" on her side
She is all set for a wild ride

I am the Bong Mom
I live life a tad below the norm
Neither famous nor a Louche
I write my own Clerihew from the couch

The second BongMom has a beautiful blog, eCurry. Used to taking gorgeous photos of her culinary creations, she was taken by surprise at her ability to rhyme and pen Clerihews.

Soma refuses to make friends or socialize.
She walks into a party with a belly full of squirming butterflies,

There's not a funny bone in her, no there's none,
but she decided to join the clerihew bandwagon for fun.

Ms. Soma I am,
Often addressed as the "eCurry Ma'am"!
I have never stirred a cup o' rhyme, and new to Clerihew
But I'm getting pretty obsessed, and promise to continue...

The well traveled Lataji, as she is fondly called by all Indie bloggers, expressed her desire for Uspalatta in this Clerihew and then she emailed me another one. She blogs at the aptly titled Flavours and Taste.

To anyone who knows, she is Lata,
She has lived in many towns, but not Uspalatta!
She cooks a stew, a meal for few and bakes a cake you can only chew;
Freinds of hers few, got to do, this game called Clerihew!

Lata can read and write, cook and sew,
Fix a few and things askew
But fumbles when tagged by friends she knew,
To coin a line or two in a Clerihew

Sharmila joined the tag party as this post was being written but she is here finally and that is what matters.

Am Sharmila here

Have been neither famous nor here or there
A latecomer into this clerihew wagon
Will just sit by and hope to learn a new jargon

On a dissenting note, Manisha, whose not only Indian food rocks but so do her awesome adventures into the mountains in her backyard and her photographs, claimed that the original Clerihew was invented by her uncle and she even had a rhyme in Marathi to prove it.

Manisha Pandit
kud-kudli thandit
hagli kundit
maarin mundit

Now, I would translate it for you in English but it wouldn’t be a Clerihew then. Besides, it is much more fun to read it in Marathi. Transliteration spoils the fun of the rhyme.
The good natured rocker that she is, Manisha decided to acquiesce to the British Clerihew and came up with this reluctant gem:

Manisha Pandit
is not going to throw a hissy fit
Instead, she will close the browser window
and with it, her growing pile of woe.

And here was my attempt at rhyming four lines and forming a Clerihew:

She is known as Desi Soccer Mom
But her son doesn't play soccer or call her mom
She loves to write and to pot
But she does not have a pen or a cot.

I went back and checked my earlier rhyming attempt which resulted in a limerick rather than a Clerihew. In case you were wondering how difficult it is to write four rhyming lines, let me assure you, if you do not have restraint you can end up with the following. And since I put Sra's limerick on here, it is only fair that I put mine in here too:

She calls herself Desi Soccer Mom
But her son does not play soccer or call her mom
She started a blog out of boredom
Little did she know it would become an addiction
After much strife, she has learnt to take a break
And her family has heaved a sigh
Because she has seen the light
And figured out what is right

After much self-deprecation by everyone, here is my challenge to all you brilliant Clerihewers:
1. Write one or multiple Clerihews but not on yourself.  It could be about a fellow blogger, someone significant in your life, your pet, your snarky neighbor, a special friend or a radio, TV or movie personality or even a celebrity chef.

2. Tell me why you choose your subject and add a link to the blogger’s blog or website or a photo of your pet or your friend or the celebrity chef, contingent on their permission.

Also link it to this post and send me an email at with the subject line Clerihew.

3. The deadline for the Celrihew is Oct 30th though you can send entrees as late as before I do the roundup which should be by the end of  first week of November.


  1. I knew this was coming, the moment you said "challenge" on FB, I smelled trouble ;-)
    But thanks for taking the time out from your busy academic schedule to do this, serious.

    I loved that Marathi Rhyme by MP, though did not understand a word but sounded very apt and succinct.

  2. Jaya this was such a lovely thing to do and so much fun. So glad I could chime in here. I did 3 more in FB but as a reply to my friends comments:)

    Only wish I could understand Manisha's Marathi one.

    Do we blog about the challenge? hmm.. not sure if I can make a post before the 30th :( but will try my bestest:D

  3. Soma, thanks. And yes, spread the word. :-)

    BM, you clever woman you. Though I am pretty sure you are up to the challenge. :-)

  4. ha! So much fun!
    Soma & BM, my Marathi rhyme has poop in it. Sorry, rather juvenile, I know! But that made my uncle all the more endearing to us, and he continues the tradition with his grand kids and nieces and nephews. He used to be the Principal of a well-known college! True story.

  5. Thanks Jaya for summing up some brilliant ones, that I may have missed on the facebook portal!
    I am trying to make one for this challenge and will hopefully post by late today...for 30th is not faraway!

  6. Manisha, won't it be funny if Soma and Sandeepa copy paste your rhyme on fb and ask everyone what it means, just like Pel does. Would love to see what the response is?

    Lataji, I just corrected the deadline to Nov 30. Did not realize till I read your comment that I had put the wrong date. :-)

  7. yes, yes Manisha, thought so, "hagli" is the word. And something to do with it being cold and though this is a public blog does it involve stuff about "washing or rather not the bum".

    Manisha and Jaya, pardon me if this is inappropriate though really, what the heck ;-)

  8. BongMom, it is not inappropriate at all. If it is in the post, it is fair game in the comments. :-)

    You deciphered the 'hagli' part right as well as the bum, though the bum is spanked here not washed. :-)

  9. Ah, such intimate chat between bum chums! What have I landed upon!

    Thanks for this initiative, Jaya, very generous of you to do this.

    Btw, it's "... without much ado'' in the final clerihew

  10. Thanks Sra. It was fun doing this. Now, waiting for the second round. And I did the correction. Thanks for pointing it out. :-)

  11. Omg! this is an excellent read on a friday evening!! great ladies!


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