A playful poetic footnote

In my “More detection” posting, we came across writer E. C. Bentley, with fame in two areas. From Wikipedia:

E. C. Bentley (full name Edmund Clerihew Bentley; 10 July 1875 – 30 March 1956) was a popular English novelist and humorist of the early twentieth century, and the inventor of the clerihew, an irregular form of humorous verse on biographical topics.

… His detective novel, Trent’s Last Case (1913), was much praised, numbering Dorothy L. Sayers among its admirers, and with its labyrinthine and mystifying plotting can be seen as the first truly modern mystery. It was adapted as a film in 1920, 1929, and 1952. The success of the work inspired him, after 23 years, to write a sequel, Trent’s Own Case (1936). There was also a book of Trent short stories, Trent Intervenes.

… From 1936 until 1949 Bentley was president of the Detection Club.

Trent’s Last Case: the book and then a notable film made from it:



But now the clerihew. From Wikipedia:

A clerihew is a whimsical, four-line biographical poem invented by Edmund Clerihew Bentley. The first line is the name of the poem’s subject, usually a famous person put in an absurd light. The rhyme scheme is AABB, and the rhymes are often forced. The line length and meter are irregular. Bentley invented the clerihew in school and then popularized it in books. One of his best known is this (1905):

Sir Christopher Wren
Said, “I am going to dine with some men.
If anyone calls
Say I am designing St. Paul’s.”

Another example:

Sir Humphry Davy
Abominated gravy.
He lived in the odium
Of having discovered sodium.

This is apparently Bentley’s original version. The version I leaned many years ago had “detested” rather than “abominated”, and “suffered” rather than “lived in”.

2 Responses to “A playful poetic footnote”

  1. Robert Coren Says:

    And then there’s this, for which I unfortunately do not have an attribution:

    E. C. Bentley
    Should not be treated gently.
    To give the devil his dues,
    He invented clerihews.

  2. The bristly brute | Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] on the clerihew. In my 4/26/15 posting “A playful poetic footnote”, on E. C. Bentley and the murder mystery Trent’s […]

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