Saturday, November 03, 2007

On the Clerihew

. . .
So let us concentrate on form.
In clerihews it is the norm
For rhythmic anarchy to reign.
The poet, though, will not disdain,
Even as he acts the vers-libriste
And treats the famous like a beast,
To let the sound regale the ear
And make rhetorically clear
The pregnant vision or the myth
He hopes to leave his reader with.
This purpose uppermost in mind,
He is to ruthlessness inclined:
Line Two is factual and curt,
The Third is planned to disconcert—
A “sprung” or “contrapuntal” stab;
The varying last may clinch or jab,
While strange but rigorous rhymes in pairs
Impress the memory unawares.
. . .
— “The Muse is Speaking” in The Clerihews of Paul Horgan, with graphic intelligence by Joseph Reed and an introductory ode by Jacques Barzun, Wesleyan University Press, 1985.

Jacques Barzun
Ain’t Tarzan,
Yet it isn’t fibbin’
To class him with Gibbon.
Eric Wehl

See also Clerihews for the Clerisy.