Everyone loves a clerihew, its seems. The request for ones about contemporary politicians drew an enormous and excellent entry — from veterans and newbies alike — and even included a couple of limericks for good measure.
For the avoidance of doubt, the clerihew is a comic four-line (AABB) poem characterised by metrical irregularity and awkward rhyme. Here’s an example from — who better? — the form’s inventor, E.C. Bentley:
Sir Humphry Davy
He lived in the odium
Of having discovered sodium.
Popular rhymes included ‘charmer’ and ‘Starmer’; ‘Boris’ and ‘Horace’; ‘Sturgeon’ and ‘burgeon’; ‘Corbyn’ and ‘absorbing’. Putin likes to ‘put the boot in’, apparently, and that David Davis is, by common consent, a ‘rara avis’.
Dr Bob Turvey and Jerry Emery submitted strikingly similar clerihews — one about Donald Trump; the other Diane Abbott — whose third and fourth lines ran roughly as follows: ‘When he opens his mouth/ his brain goes south’.
There was much to admire and it was tricky to sift the best from the merely good. Those that made the cut are printed below and earn their authors £8 each. Commiserations to the rest.
Has been grilled, gutted and gammoned
And got porridge poured over his wee bit of glory
By a big evil Tory.
Rises and falls:
They say he’s a Blairite
is one of the (small) magic circle
whose country rates ’em
But is Ian Paisley junior
No longer holds sway —
For seeing off Corbyn and his iffy cult
Proved too BLOODY DIFFICULT.
Looks like a great North American leader, although,
To be fair, the guy next door
Has made that easier than it was before.
To where has Diane Abbott
‘No idea’, said Theresa,
Glancing at her freezer.
Is far richer than me,
But to seem ordinary,
She goes by Thornberry.
Made not a single blooper,
In the election campaign, reckoning it wiser to be
Couldn’t be glummer.
It’s not much fun
Being John Selwyn’s son.
Is a Thunderer sprog:
But his manner is less irate
And he lives in 1798.
Is considered in the future tense
Resembles a lump
Of misshapen fat
Topped by an overweight bottle-blond rat.
Squares a circle by producing a squircle:
As her party trick
It seems to click.
Would never choose
‘Should I dye my hair auburn?’
Asks Jeremy Corbyn,
‘Or should it be red
Is a would-be political surgeon
Who’d gladly affect a wee
Waits in suspense,
Hoping that they’ll dump
Wears suits made of dacron.
OK, I made that up, but President Macron’s chief
Is that he doesn’t rhyme.
Thinks that Scotland needs purgin’,
She can’t wait to see the backs
Of the Sassenachs.
Your next challenge is to submit a sonnet that takes as its opening line Keats’s ‘Why did I laugh tonight? No voice will tell:’. Please email entries, wherever possible, to firstname.lastname@example.org by midday on 5 July.