Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Days of Clerihews and Roses

As happens often of late, it started with a tweet or two . . . .

A hashtag of #SherlockianClerihews soon followed Chris Redmond's suggestion, and the game was on. The first step, for what I'm sure was the lion's share of us, was googling to remind ourselves just what the hell a Clerihew was. Four lines, first two rhyming, second two rhyming, with the first line being the named of a well-known person. Basically, an easier rival to the limerick. Which is probably why the fun began so quickly.

#SherlockianClerihews didn't really start trending immediately, or probably even reach many Sherlockian data pathways, but it brought out one of those things about Sherlockians that isn't always apparent to the casual observer: We don't just love detectives. We love words.

Perhaps that's the distinction that some who balk at describing us as "fans" are trying to make, but given that fan fiction is all about the words, I'd still hold to that term. In any case, words and playing with words is why we have such obscure treasures as Isaac Asimov's Asimov's Sherlockian Limericks. And, also, why it took little prompting for Sherlockians to go on a rampage of Clerihews in celebration of other Sherlockians. (Oh, yes, we like other Sherlockians too, for the most part.)

And it's so easy. I found myself spontaneously creating them about fellow dinner party guests last night when asked what they were. And some Sherlockian names work so perfectly in the form.

Arthur Conan Doyle,
Upon Sherlock did toil
Until he became quite tired
At which point Holmes got fired.

And, given the lack of regular line length or perfect rhymes, one can spit one of those things almost at rap-battle speed (unless the subject is Ashley Polasek -- and the lure of feminine rhymes no matter what the subject's gender). Let me look at my bookshelf for another Sherlockian . . . .

Old Lord Donegall
Surely thought he knew it all
With Baker Street and Beyond,
Like Potter, he used a magic wand.

Was the song Maxwell's Silver Hammer started with a Clerihew? For some reason Lord Donegall had me singing to that tune. In any case, trust me, these things come easier than any other poetic form you'd care to name, outside of the most formless, no-rules verse.

Will #SherlockianClerihews continue for a while? We can only hope.


  1. Jim Vogelsang would bring
    a poem that he would sing
    he thought him quite a wit
    but his rhymes were usually ****

  2. I accepted the challenge:

    Ashley Polasek
    Deserves to haul a check
    For her writings delightful
    And also insightful.
    -- Esmerelda