Clerihews are whimsical four line poems in a form invented by Edmund Clerihew Bentley, hence the name. They are defined by Wikipedia thusly:

A clerihew has the following properties:
  • It is biographical and usually whimsical, showing the subject from an unusual point of view; it pokes fun at mostly famous people
  • It has four lines of irregular length (for comic effect); the third and fourth lines are usually longer than the first two
  • The rhyme structure is AABB; the subject matter and wording are often humorously contrived in order to achieve a rhyme
  • The first line consists solely (or almost solely) of the subject's name.
Clerihews are not satirical or abusive, but they target famous individuals and reposition them in an absurd, anachronistic or commonplace setting, often giving them an over-simplified and slightly garbled description (similar to the schoolboy style of 1066 and All That).
The unbalanced and unpolished poetic meter and line length parody the limerick, and the clerihew form also parodies the eulogy.

So, here is my small collection of Clerihews, for your perusal:

Barack Obama

Barack Hussein Obama,
Is an accomplished charmer,
A skill he'll need to use
With the Arabs and the Jews.


Cleopatra Ptolemy
Persistently followed me.
But I slipped out of her grasp
And she fell upon her Asp.

Eddie 'the Eagle' Edwards

Eddie 'the Eagle' (and clown)
Peers myopically down.
Propels himself into the air
And flies - on a wing and a prayer.

Alan Turing

Alan Mathison Turing -
He invented computing,
But neglected to invent
A cure for having been born bent.

Elton John

Elton John
Goes on and on.
When his hairline shifted
He had it lifted.

Captain Jack

Captain Jack Harkness
Is frightened of darkness
But Cardiff Gay Pride
He takes in his stride.

Johnny Depp and John Barrowman

Johnnys, Barrowman and Depp
Fell out, no longer march in step.
Depp snarled “Barrowman, you hack,
Lay off my name, I'm Captain Jack!”


Hooray for Gandalf the Grey,
He always saves the day.
Even if killed, he might
Return as Gandalf the White.

Prince Charles

Charlie, Prince of Wales
Tries so hard, but fails.
He only wants to please -
He gets on fine with trees.


Napoleon Buonaparte
Who tore a continent apart
Ended up on St Helena
With his Empress Josephina.

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