RadioBDC Logo
| Listen Live
< Back to front page Text size +

Clerihew contest!

Posted by Robin Abrahams  July 7, 2008 08:15 AM

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

NOTE: New entries are below this one. I'll be floating this entry at the top of the blog until the contest is over.

REMINDER: No politics! I let that Mugabe one slide, because we're all pretty much anti-Mugabe, but no U.S. politicians or political commentary. Also--hey, since you don't have to bother with meter, do pay some attention to the rhyme! Rhymes actually should.

We are going to make ourselves some poetry here, kids! July 10 is Clerihew Day, celebrating the poetic invention of Edmund Clerihew Bentley. These are the rules for a Clerihew poem:

1. They are about a person, and the first line is (usually) the name of that person.
2. There are four lines.
3. The rhyme scheme is AABB; the first two lines and the second two lines rhyme.
4. There is no meter; that is, the lines can be as long or short as you want.

Here is an example:

Robin Abrahams
Never haws and hems
She gives advice
To people who want themselves and others to act nice.

(It helps on this to know my name is actually pronounced AY-brems, not AY-bra-hams.)

One for my WCRN buddy Peter Blute:

Peter Blute
Is a commentator most astute.
He can be found on AM radio
Rapping with all the chicks and cats, daddy-o.

A clerihew about Agatha Christie:

Agatha Christie
Wrote plot lines so twisty,
Whodunit we'd never know
If it weren't for the little grey cells of Poirot.

Get the idea? Here's a good online rhyming dictionary to help you out, too.

The rules of the contest:

1. Leave your clerihews in comments.
2. Follow the proper clerihew form.
3. No clerihews about me, Mr. Improbable, or Milo (if you want to post or e-mail me some, we'd be delighted, but clerihews about the judge, her spouse, or beloved dog can't be considered for the contest for reasons of objectivity).
4. Clerihews containing sexual or political material will be disallowed. Yes, both "John McCain" and "Barack Obama" are rich in potential rhymes, but so are "Shania Twain" and "The Dalai Lama," so make it about them, okay?
5. You can enter as many clerihews as you like.
6. Clerihews will be judged on wit, accuracy, psychological perspecuity, and linguistic ingenuity.

On the evening of July 7, I will pick the top 5 clerihews. Then you can vote on the winners, right here on this blog. Voting will be open until midnight on July 10--CLERIHEW DAY! The winner will be announced on the morning of July 11.

The winner will receive Scribner's "Best American Poetry 2007" anthology (2008 isn't over yet, so that anthology hasn't come out), and no end of glory and bragging rights.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

89 comments so far...
  1. Public fatuity brought on academic wrath.
    Fair Harvard blushed like a girl confused by math,
    And Larry Summers got his oust.
    Welcome, President Faust!

    Posted by Anonymous June 29, 08 11:04 AM
  1. Pop country sensation Shania Twain,
    Who managed to stay quite sane
    Despite years as a POW camp resident,
    Decided, "Heck, how bad could it be to be President?"

    Spiritual celeb the Dalai Lama
    Never misses a comma
    In his excellent and moving speeches.
    Aren't they peaches?

    Robin says: The above clerihews have been edited to conform to the rules of the contest.

    Posted by G. L. Dryfoos June 29, 08 03:49 PM
  1. Carrie Bradshaw wed her man
    Though nuptials chucked the gala plan
    Mr. Big freaked out – he fled that NYCity wedding
    But love trumped Sex with a fairy tale ending.

    Robin says: Clerihews about fictional characters are also quite welcome!

    Posted by Elizabeth Wolfe June 29, 08 04:36 PM
  1. In the News:
    Reading about Robert Mugabe
    Just makes me sobby.
    Could it be those folks had it easier
    Back when it was still Rhodesier?

    We really haven't heard much from Ben Bernanke
    About the hanky-panky
    That caused the subprime mortgage crisis, or what he espouses
    To punish the guys that made us lose our houses.

    Posted by G. L. Dryfoos June 29, 08 04:41 PM
  1. Bill Gates
    Has left the giant software company everyone hates.
    "Hey, Mistah?
    Are *you* gonna use Vista?"

    I really miss George Carlin.
    Despite the swearin' and snarlin'
    He always hoped people could do more than act stupid and chase money.
    And, oh my God, was he funny!

    Posted by G. L. Dryfoos June 29, 08 05:00 PM
  1. Mary Poppins
    Distinguished herself with dramatic drop-ins.
    You can always tell a
    Magical nanny by the dignified grace of her umbrella.

    Inigo Montoya
    Went on a mission to destroy a
    Man with six fingers.
    Revenge is sweet, but the scent of blood lingers.

    Hamlet, Prince of Denmark,
    Listen to your father’s ghost, and then mark
    How your uncle’s now king and well-wed.
    What do you need, to be hit over the head?

    Edmund Clerihew Bentley,
    You guide users of poetic form, but gently.
    Whoever invented the sonnet chose to dictate meter, but you eschew
    Such stringent rules for the clerihew.

    Posted by Shoshana Flax June 29, 08 08:09 PM
  1. How Vogue, she cried, how Manolo Blahnik
    These sky high heels, a single city girl’s loneliness tonic
    Blisters be damned, it’s my choice - I choose my Jimmy Choo’s

    Posted by Elizabeth Wolfe June 29, 08 09:07 PM
  1. Nolan Ryan
    left 'em cryin'
    with his gas.
    His balls were fast.

    Jorie Graham
    once said, "I am,
    I think. Or not.
    At least I'm hot!"

    Stanley Plumly
    sits there glumly,
    eyes a-glisten.
    Forced to listen.

    Mark Strand
    will lift no hand
    to taste a wine
    before its time.

    Frank Bidart
    bent over Art,
    called the friction
    stuff of fiction.

    Posted by A. Nan June 29, 08 09:58 PM
  1. The Sea Rose

    Hilda Dolittle, tall and 'Greek,'
    ran straight into the sea.

    Pound pulled her out in a single piece,
    H.D., Imagiste.


    Ezra Pound
    's mind was sound

    from A Lume Spento
    to The Pisan Cantos.

    At Harvard Yard

    Would Archibald MacLeish
    walk a lobster on a leash?

    Even a crustacean
    Would rather be than mean.

    The Fifth Quartet

    T.S. Eliot
    didn't go out.

    He stayed in
    with Vivienne.

    O, to Be a Dragon

    Marianne Moore, at the zoo,
    looked more stork than gnu.

    At the baseball game,
    she looked the same.

    The Troubles of a Book

    Laura Riding
    went into hiding.

    The Fugitive poet vanished
    into the study of language.

    Duly Apostrophized

    John Crowe Ransom
    was critical and then some.

    Agrarian ontologists
    make leading formal apologists.

    Not Him, But the Wind

    D. H. Lawrence
    had an abhorrence

    for the beastly bourgeoisie.
    He had his tea in a tree.

    The History of Modern Art

    Frank O'Hara
    was known to wear a

    spattered smock when
    visiting Pollock, Jackson.

    The Fragments

    was boffo

    for Demeter,

    The Making of Parisians

    Gertrude Stein,
    who resembled the number nine,

    or eight with a slight remainder,
    was more village than 'village explainer.'

    Posted by Paul Hoover June 30, 08 02:48 AM
  1. My 7yo son just wrote a poem in 1st grade that I realize works as a clerihew:


    A penguin rides.
    He slides and slides
    in a real fast motion.
    When he is done with that he dives back into the ocean.

    Posted by lynn June 30, 08 11:20 AM
  1. History corner:
    Guerilla warrior Francis Marion
    Believed in harryin'
    The British troops, who marched in columns and formed up in a box.
    That ol' Swamp Fox!

    Posted by G. L. Dryfoos June 30, 08 01:59 PM
  1. Philip Trent
    Was another product of E.C. Bentley’s creative bent.
    A fictional sleuth, he appeared first in a case called his last.*
    “Trent’s Last Case” was a botch—like this couplet. Alas!


    Posted by Michael Slind June 30, 08 02:09 PM
  1. Amy Winehouse sings about rehab
    While fighting emphyzema and taking a drag
    She has hair piled high on her head
    Will it fit in the coffin after she's dead?

    Posted by Amy June 30, 08 06:46 PM
  1. Bill O'Reilly
    Speaks very slyly
    He says there's "no-spin" on his "Factor"
    But maybe he's just a character actor

    Stephen Colbert
    Is so balanced and fair
    He's a comedian too
    But his truthiness shines through

    Posted by Richard June 30, 08 06:54 PM
  1. Last name Blanchett, first name Cate,
    Wins awards at an alarming rate,
    Recognized for playing good Queen Bess,
    But as Dylan, she played a man the best.

    Posted by Richard June 30, 08 07:37 PM
  1. Mike Myers,
    Seldom tires,
    Though no one loved his guru -- they called it "drek,"
    He'll always be Wayne, and Austin, and the voice of Shrek,

    Posted by Richard June 30, 08 07:52 PM
  1. Sigmund Freud,
    I try to avoid,
    Who knows what he'd find,
    In my unconscious mind?

    Posted by Richard June 30, 08 08:01 PM
  1. Johnny Rotten,
    Not forgotten.
    Loved to shock
    With his punk rock.

    Elton John,
    Performs on and on
    In the Las Vegas night.
    He was once Reg Dwight.

    Elvis Costello,
    A wonderful fellow.
    Now under the thrall,
    Of Diana Krall.

    Stephen King,
    Keeps on writing.
    Each volume as good as the last.
    I only wish I could read that fast.

    Franz Ferdinand
    Is the name of a band.
    Wherever they play, though,
    They avoid Sarajevo.

    Posted by Richard June 30, 08 11:05 PM
  1. The actor Vern Troyer,
    Hired a lawyer.
    Mini-Me didn't want people to screen,
    A home-made tape that some called obscene.

    Posted by Richard June 30, 08 11:10 PM
  1. Michael Caine
    A famous name
    The less-than-fickle might
    Call him Maurice Micklewhite

    Posted by Richard June 30, 08 11:56 PM
  1. Jack Black
    Has the knack
    For comedy and song
    He kills with every performance. Just ask King Kong.

    Rupert Murdoch started in papers,
    Had all sorts of media capers.
    Through it all, he stayed diurnal.
    Ended up with The Wall Street Journal.

    Posted by Richard July 1, 08 12:14 AM
  1. If you're fighting Mike Tyson,
    You might want to think twice when,
    He stops boxing your ear
    And instead puts his teeth near.

    Tyra Banks
    Gives Oprah thanks
    For being a talk-show inspiration.
    (She prefers Martha's style of decoration.)

    Mamma Mia! Meryl Streep
    Is making an artistic leap.
    She does accents. She's sure got the voice.
    Remember her in Sophie's Choice?

    Posted by Richard July 1, 08 01:42 AM
  1. Henry Fielding wrote Tom Jones
    To help him pay his student loans.
    That's not true, but research is speedier
    When you cut and paste from Wikipedia.

    Posted by Richard July 1, 08 01:51 AM
  1. Edward Bernays
    Discovered the ways
    Of Subconscious persuasion
    Which made him the father of mass manipulation.

    Posted by John Nixon July 1, 08 09:10 AM
  1. George Carlin
    Wasn't everyone's darlin'
    Seven words you can't say on TV
    Not mentionable here, but one of them refers to pee.

    Posted by Rebecca July 1, 08 11:15 AM
  1. What can we say about Manny Ramirez?
    A swift smile and bat but not as swift as his temper is --
    It's no longer uncanny
    that he'll, well, always "be Manny"...

    Posted by Maria Makredes July 1, 08 11:42 AM
  1. William S. Burroughs
    Had a brow filled with wrinkles and furrows
    (Which were probably exacerbated, of course,
    By his addiction to horse).

    Posted by Francis July 1, 08 01:04 PM
  1. My 10 year old son wrote this one about himself:

    Henry Nee
    Just got a Wii
    If he had his way
    He would play all day!

    Posted by Amy Doherty July 1, 08 03:22 PM
  1. Steven Hawking
    Has a unique style of talking
    To his chair he's confined
    With the whole universe in his mind

    Posted by therblig July 1, 08 04:41 PM
  1. Tim Berners-Lee
    Invented HTTP
    Thus the world wide web was born
    For Nigerian Diplomats and porn

    Posted by therblig July 1, 08 05:00 PM
  1. Julia Child - America’s pioneer TV queen
    Of French cuisine
    So smart, so funny, in sophisticated European fashion
    She transformed our country bumpkin culinary passion.

    Posted by Elizabeth Wolfe July 1, 08 08:02 PM
  1. Oh seer of the heavens, ye aging Hubble
    Your murky lens at first gave trouble
    But corrected sight showed star light cast
    On ancient worlds, the first big blast.

    Why must our Hubble be retired?
    Its enlightening vision has not expired
    Rather, tow it to the International Space Station
    And point it toward the future, the pride of a nation.

    Posted by Elizabeth Wolfe July 1, 08 08:23 PM
  1. Why must our Hubble be retired?
    Its enlightening vision has not expired
    Rather, tow it to the International Space Station
    And point it toward the future, the pride of Earth nation.

    Starship USS Enterprise, flag ship supreme
    500 years hence, it’s still only a dream
    But dreamers are searchers, wandering far in the night
    Starfleet seekers, explorers discover, excite.

    Make it so, commanded Captain Jean Luc Picard
    Acceleration warp speed, take her port side hard
    We’ll blast past the Romulans with our Enterprise technology
    And victor over Klingons with superior human psychology.

    Posted by Elizabeth Wolfe July 1, 08 11:02 PM
  1. Franco Majok
    Is a quiet guy. His name won't shock.
    He's just one man
    Helping his village in South Sudan.

    Posted by Lisa Deeley Smith July 1, 08 11:23 PM
  1. Anakin Skywalker
    Became Vader (breathy talker)
    Serves as Palpatine's murderous wraith
    And is disturbed by your lack of faith

    Posted by therblig July 2, 08 07:49 AM
  1. Elliott Ness
    Was inclined to obsess
    If he had had Ritilin
    Capone's crimes would seem piddlin'

    Posted by Brendan Kerr July 2, 08 10:44 AM
  1. A couple of science ones, in honor of (but NOT about!) Mr. Improbable:

    Alfred Russell Wallace
    Will in this fact hopefully take solace:
    No scientific principle has caused its discoverer so much in-grave revolution
    As the theory of evolution.

    Thomas Edison
    Invented a type of electricity that we have mostly had to jettison.
    The clear advantages of direct over alternating current

    Steven Pinker
    Is a coiffer, not a thinker.
    His theories have many people debating their spuriousness
    But his hair inspires others with its luxuriousness.

    Man, these are hard... I'm going to go do some actual journalism and come back later.

    Posted by Fillyjonk July 2, 08 11:46 AM
  1. Diva Celine Dion,
    Her heart goes on and on.
    The Las Vegas show is done,
    But her songs hit number one.

    Quarterback Tom Brady
    Romances a fancy lady.
    Leading the Patriots on the field,
    The offensive line is his shield.

    Jane Austen
    Wielded a witty pen.
    Her Mr. Darcy had too much pride,
    But his love for Miss Bennett never died.

    Posted by Amy July 2, 08 01:58 PM
  1. Piano man Billy Joel
    Knows a lot about soul.
    When his fingers caress the keys,
    The crowd admires his expertise.

    Posted by Amy July 2, 08 02:06 PM
  1. Edmund C Bentley
    Wrote intently,
    But would now be anonymous
    Were it not for the verse form for which his middle name is eponymous.

    Posted by Walt July 2, 08 02:36 PM
  1. Spain: known for flamenco and bullfighting,
    It is the sunnier sibling
    To the perennial northern winners of soccer competitions
    But now it is home to the 2008 Euro Cup Champions!

    Posted by DeMoDonk July 2, 08 03:08 PM
  1. Kevin Garnett: all intensity and muscle
    He’s really good friends with Bill Russell,
    He played really well in Game Six
    So we got to celebrate a championship with kicks!

    Posted by DeMoDonk July 2, 08 03:15 PM
  1. Poor Big Papi
    He is none too happy
    His left wrist is broke
    Causing the Red Sox to choke

    Posted by AJ July 2, 08 03:17 PM
  1. the Math Department:
    Carl Friedrich Gauss
    Didn't exactly bring down the house
    When he announced his Prime Number Theorem.
    Maybe they just couldn't hear 'im?

    Thoughtful host Leonhard Euler
    Poured tea for his guest from off the boiler.
    "I guess I'll solve the Konigsberg bridges,
    But first, let's see what's in the fridges."

    Posted by G. L. Dryfoos July 2, 08 03:47 PM
  1. Elizabeth of England ruled merrily as queen
    She sunk the Spanish armada - a brutal maritime scene
    Like father, like daughter, she cut off the head
    Of her own cousin Mary - a traitor, she said.

    Elizabeth was born of King Henry the Eighth
    And defended the right to new Protestant faith
    Out Catholics! Out papists! Her policies sought
    To keep England from Mary - a Catholic, a Scot.

    Posted by Elizabeth Wolfe July 2, 08 07:05 PM
  1. When Moses reached the Promised Land
    He cried – Lord, You done dealt me a bitter hand
    These Jews are tired, cranky, hot
    But Lord, they is the best we got!

    Posted by Elizabeth Wolfe July 2, 08 07:37 PM
  1. Georg Simon Ohm
    Studied physics in his Bavarian home
    But after much resistance, he just couldn't fight it
    And wrote "Die galvanische Kette, mathematisch bearbeitet "

    Posted by therblig July 2, 08 10:15 PM
  1. Moon explorer Neil Armstrong
    Got his "one step for man" quote wrong.
    He came in peace for all Mankind
    And left that little plaque behind.

    Posted by G. L. Dryfoos July 2, 08 10:47 PM
  1. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark
    Went for a little walk in the park.
    Meri said, "Now Bill, we'll only be away a
    Couple of hours. We won't need Sacagawea."

    Posted by G. L. Dryfoos July 2, 08 10:52 PM
  1. The girl from E.T., a famous face,
    At school she loved to sketch and trace.
    She looked in the mirror, copied what she saw,
    And said: "Look! I Drew Barrymore!"

    Posted by Richard July 3, 08 08:40 AM
  1. Unhappy Eeyore
    Is glum to the core.
    A donkey sad and blue,
    His chum is Winnie the Pooh.

    Posted by Amy July 3, 08 09:46 AM
  1. Eleanor Roosevelt
    Did good works heartfelt
    But her greatest decision
    Was to point out that no one can make you feel inferior without your permission.

    Young Luke Russert
    Performed admirably despite how he was hurt
    If his behavior in the long term matches that in the short
    We'll see him in the big leagues — the White House or Supreme Court

    Posted by Kate'sSisterJ July 3, 08 11:05 AM
  1. Mohandas K
    Taught India to peacefully disobey
    But his long forceful speeches in Hindi
    Were Gandhi with the Windy

    Posted by therblig July 3, 08 11:38 AM
  1. Never count out tycoon The Donald, who like Midas of old
    Made millions and millions, piled up mountains of gold
    Plunged down the money slope, climbed back up with Apprentice TV
    It’s just business, Mr. Trump – but can’t you give some to me?

    Posted by Elizabeth Wolfe July 3, 08 01:40 PM
  1. Alternating weeks

    Henry Hook
    Simplicity just cannot brook.
    All alone, he secretly mocks
    The tameness of Rathvon and Fox.

    Posted by Tei Tetua July 3, 08 01:42 PM
  1. Frank Gilbreth
    Studied time and motion to death
    Portrayed by Clifton Webb as somewhat of a prig
    His painstaking work gave us the therblig

    Posted by therblig July 3, 08 02:59 PM
  1. Abigail Adams
    Wrote, "John, remember the ladies, both misses and madams."
    The ladies would have made strides too numerous to mention,
    If he'd paid attention.

    Posted by Janice Lindsay July 3, 08 04:06 PM
  1. Adam Sandler
    Is usually a good comedy handler
    But "You Don't Mess With The Zohan"
    Is about as entertaining as Lindsay Lohan

    Posted by therblig July 3, 08 09:29 PM
  1. Dave Brubeck
    What dexterity—his fingers on an eternal trek
    A man who walks the streets of Leipzig with Bach
    And whose wondrous measures you could never unlock

    Posted by Amy July 3, 08 11:13 PM
  1. Erik Satie
    A man who wanted to be
    Wandering the Parisian streets
    And playing tricks upon the sheets

    Posted by Amy July 3, 08 11:29 PM
  1. Leonard Bernstein
    Had talents that surely did shine
    His conducting and composing formed an artistic alliance
    But he's probably best known from that line in that song by "They Might Be Giants"

    Posted by therblig July 4, 08 12:52 AM
  1. Cathy loves to belly dance
    in flowing skirt or harem pants
    with a shimmie in her hips
    and a smile upon her lips

    Posted by Cathy Moore July 4, 08 06:21 PM
  1. Marcel Proust
    adored being goosed.
    For this purpose he kept a chauffeur,
    who was otherwise rather a loafer.

    Aleister Crowley
    in his later years turned fairly jowly.
    There was a great deal of marrow in
    his bones, and also heroin.

    Eleanor of Aquitaine
    was once with a lackwit ta'en.
    He was flabby and wore flashes on his socks,
    but hung like an ox!

    Benjamin Britten,
    once shy, was twice bitten:
    First by a gentleman climbing the stairs,
    next by Peter Pears.

    Havelock Ellis
    had little enough to tell us.
    His catalogue of humanity's inversions
    had long since been discovered by the Persians.

    Benjamin Disraeli
    Excelled upon the ukulele.
    His perorations carried with them something of Scheherazade's tone.
    Sucks to Gladstone.

    Posted by Mirabai Knight July 4, 08 06:36 PM
  1. Jane Austen
    Never lived in Boston.
    She was feeling rather shabby
    When she wrote Northanger Abbey.

    Posted by Danielle July 5, 08 12:27 AM
  1. Charles Dickens
    Abominated kittens.
    He became popular with all nations
    After writing Great Expectations.

    Posted by Danielle July 5, 08 12:33 AM
  1. Joe Orton
    Was never too shy to go courtin'.
    He spent some time in the slammer
    Then got bludgeoned with a hammer.

    Posted by Danielle July 5, 08 12:36 AM
  1. I should be sleeping, but I had to get these down:

    Run, run, Forrest Gump -
    His braces break, see him jump!
    He never complained when his life was altered;
    His love for Jenny never faltered.

    Cantankerous Lieutenant Dan -
    Death in battle was the plan.
    Though at Forrest Gump you screamed,
    Life turned out better than you'd dreamed.

    Forrest Gump couldn't save Bubba, his beloved friend,
    But he kept his shrimpboat promise 'til the end.
    To Bubba's family, Gump brought the check -
    Bubba's mama fainted on the deck.

    Posted by Beth July 5, 08 01:11 AM
  1. Henry David Thoreau
    gave old Emerson a blow.
    When Waldo visited his cell
    Henry remarked, "You should be here as well!"

    Posted by Renee Ruchotzke July 5, 08 12:41 PM
  1. Have been thinking about this contest and trying to come up with one. And then, last night, we got the call we've been hoping wouldn't come.

    Blanche Willey, a.k.a. Aunt Sis
    Gone to God, we'll sorely miss
    No longer hurting, no more fears
    Leaves broken hearts, lots of tears

    Robin says: Oh, Penny, I'm sorry for your loss!

    Posted by Penny R July 5, 08 12:42 PM
  1. Serena said to Venus
    Nothing will come between us
    Let's just go out and have some fun.
    She lost two sets to none.

    Posted by Richard July 5, 08 03:45 PM
  1. Hugh Laurie
    Is destined for television glory.
    His character may love to gripe and grouse,
    But if you're dying, there's no better doctor than House.

    Sir Arthur Conan Doyle,
    Pride of Scottish soil.
    He became famous in homes
    All over England when he created Sherlock Holmes.

    Benjamin Franklin
    Had a bad case of gout which left him ranklin'.
    His favorite dish was baked scrod
    And he won fame by inventing the lightning rod.

    Posted by Danielle July 5, 08 10:44 PM
  1. Albert Einstein
    Spoke very slowly until he was nine.
    His parents thought he was retarded
    But in the end he was just guarded.

    Josef Stalin
    Created a cult of personality so that people thought he was ballin’
    But the politicide of the Great Purge
    Only made the death toll surge.

    Vincent Van Gogh—
    His brother Theo lent him dough
    Even after he cut off his own ear
    Which Gauguin thought was quite queer.

    Maria von Trapp
    Was late for mass and shouted, “Oh crap!”
    She became a governess—taught the children song
    And was married to the Captain before very long.

    Henry the Eighth
    Had a lot of faith
    In his ability to get women in bed
    Before they were even wed.

    Britney Spears
    Must be embarrassed as the public sneers
    Because she’s a total mess
    With nothing under that dress.

    Jan Vermeer
    Put a pearl earring in her ear
    This girl of worldwide fame is still a mystery
    As we wonder about her history.

    Posted by Stephanie July 6, 08 11:49 PM
  1. Nikolai Tesla
    Was a pro wrestla
    Then got a degree in the sciences
    And built home appliances

    Jayson Blair, perhaps forgettably,
    Made decisions regrettably.
    Blamed his editors and society
    For his lack of propriety.

    Bob Dylan, praised as genius,
    Is from the media abstemious
    And his adherents are lenient
    When his rhymes are just convenient.

    Posted by Dan Steinberg July 7, 08 09:24 AM
  1. Antonín Dvoøák
    At one point an Iowan Slovak
    In 1893 unfurled
    His Symphony #9 "From the New World"

    Posted by therblig July 7, 08 01:43 PM
  1. I'm a Star Trek freak
    A Sex and the City geek
    French Chef fanatic
    After reading all my clerihews, my daughter thinks my behavior is erratic!

    Oh me, oh my
    It's the Fourth of July
    Better take
    A clerihew break.

    Clerihew poems keep
    me from sleep
    Quit rhyming, I say
    On this Independence Day.

    Singer extraordinaire
    Her voice
    Top choice.

    Probably ate too much biscotti
    But his music, his enormous gift of song...
    With a talent like that, he could do no wrong.

    Posted by Elizabeth Wolfe July 7, 08 01:44 PM
  1. Traditional American folk song - a clerihew - who knew?

    Have you heard the story of sweet Betsy from Pike?
    Who crossed the wide prairie with her husband Ike
    With two yoke of cattle and one spotted hog
    A tall Shanghai rooster and old yeller dog.

    Posted by Elizabeth Wolfe July 7, 08 02:01 PM
  1. Inscrutable gymnast, mysterious Nadia Comenich
    Made balance beam look like a walk on the beach.
    Uneven bars, tumbling - with athletic genius galore
    She vaulted her horse, earning another perfect gymnastic score.

    Posted by Elizabeth Wolfe July 7, 08 04:12 PM
  1. This year we're missing Lance
    In the Tour de France
    I suppose we could take a hike
    But life's better on a bike.

    Posted by Elizabeth Wolfe July 7, 08 04:35 PM
  1. Suggestion:

    Instead of "curing"
    Alan Turing
    They should have left his record clean
    And let him develop the Turing Machine.

    Posted by G. L. Dryfoos July 7, 08 04:36 PM
  1. Christina Aguilera
    Would never wear a
    Herringbone suit.
    (Nor would a prostitute.)

    Abraham Lincoln
    Didn’t do a lot of thinkin’
    On the spot
    After he was shot.

    Roger Federer
    Was better—er,
    Wait, that’s not right.
    ’Twas Rapha’s night.

    David Sedaris
    Wasted April in Paris
    Nibbling on brioche
    On La Rive Gauche.

    Posted by Cody Walker July 7, 08 04:48 PM
  1. Elizabeth Bishop
    buttered the fish up
    with homage and versification--
    and herbed garlic, post-publication.

    Marianne Moore
    kept a voluminous store
    of quotes that she dug in
    case she needed something to plug in.

    Posted by Emily Lloyd July 7, 08 07:50 PM
  1. Phillip K. Dick
    His mind was marvelously sick
    In strange new worlds he dove in deep
    And revealed who dreams of electric sheep

    Posted by therblig July 7, 08 08:07 PM
  1. Jeffrey Toobin
    Got an Emmy for covering that little Cuban
    Sometimes thinks jurisprudence a goner
    And worships Sandra Day O'Connor

    (thanks to Wally)

    Posted by therblig July 7, 08 08:13 PM
  1. Matt Groening
    Created a show which was fresh, clever, and, above all, entertaining.
    I hoped the Groening/entertaining rhyme would be surprising and original enough to warrant a spot in the top five, but as it happens (Latin: ut accidit),
    The Simpsons already did it.

    Posted by Jangler July 7, 08 08:54 PM
  1. The awful thing about Jonathan Rhys-Meyers
    Is how quickly one tires
    Of his reliance on cheekbones , for instance-
    Or the dramatic gaze into the middle distance

    Posted by TheMoon July 8, 08 10:54 AM
  1. Speaking of poems, have you seen this funny story?

    Posted by Danielle D. July 8, 08 11:00 AM
  1. Seventeenth Earl of Oxford, Sir Edward de Vere
    Was a master of prose, poems and drama we hear.
    But, as nobility, he could not relax, sir,
    'Til his oeuvre was thought written by grain merchant Shaxper.

    Posted by J.D.J.D.J.D. July 9, 08 01:05 AM
  1. Joyce Carol Oates
    I hate to boast
    but she's quite prolific. She writes by the handful.
    She wrote all of the above poems, for example.

    Posted by deirdre July 10, 08 01:00 PM
  1. Ode to Michael Jackson
    He used to be black, son
    His moonwalk: amazing, toe to heel
    Who knew Neverland was real?

    Posted by CLNU18 June 30, 09 03:20 PM
About Miss Conduct
Welcome to Miss Conduct’s blog, a place where the popular Boston Globe Magazine columnist Robin Abrahams and her readers share etiquette tips, unravel social conundrums, and gossip about social behavior in pop culture and the news. Have a question of your own? Ask Robin using this form or by emailing her at

Who is Miss Conduct?

Robin Abrahamswrites the weekly "Miss Conduct" column for The Boston Globe Magazine and is the author of Miss Conduct's Mind over Manners. Robin has a PhD in psychology from Boston University and also works as a research associate at Harvard Business School. Her column is informed by her experience as a theater publicist, organizational-change communications manager, editor, stand-up comedian, and professor of psychology and English. She lives in Cambridge with her husband Marc Abrahams, the founder of the Ig Nobel Prizes, and their socially challenged but charismatic dog, Milo.

Need Advice?

Curious if you should say "bless you" to a sneezing atheist? How to host a dinner party for carbophobes, vegans, and Atkins disciples—all at the same time? The finer points of regifting? Ask it here, or email

Ask us a question


Browse this blog

by category