In Competition No. 3219, you were invited to supply clerihews on well-known scientists, past and present.
The subject of the first ever clerihew — a pseudo-biographical quatrain, AABB, playful in tone, metrically clunky — which was written, for fun, in about 1890 by schoolboy E.C. Bentley (and illustrated by his chum G.K. Chesterton) was a scientist:
Sir Humphry Davy
He lived in the odium
Of having discovered sodium.
But it was all downhill from there, it seems. In his introduction to The Complete Clerihews of E.Clerihew Bentley, the poet Gavin Ewart contends that ‘nobody much except Bentley has ever written really good clerihews’. Even literary giant W.H. Auden, he says, doesn’t quite cut the mustard.
That didn’t put you off, though, and in a large and spirited entry honourable mentions go to Barbara Knight, John Maddicott, David Shields, Nicholas Stone, Philip Wilson, G.N. Crockford, P.T. Brown, Iain Morley, Max Gutmann and Rachael Churchill. The winners, printed below, pocket £9 each.
When he talks of quark and quantum
I want ’em.
Doesn’t mean to be a woe bringer
To the world’s feline population,
But his thought experiment occasions consternation.
Does rather scare me,
For he was the Father of the Atomic Bomb.
Invented substances that blew people to Hell,
Then endowed six major prizes. Maybe seven
Would have got him into Heaven.
The young Marie Curie
Reacted with fury
When they said don’t worry your pretty little cranium
Spent years enduring
Unrelated abuse for achievements which should
Have earned him a knighthood.
Archimedes of Syracuse
Ran from the bath with his news.
The first streaker.
Could never have imagined the hell
His invention would lead to. Who could foretell
That countless millions would end up living in a cell?
Was a Hollywood star
Whose movies I recently rented
To watch on the wifi she sort of invented.
Always drank beer from a fine stein;
He thought it the sign of an ass
To drink beer from a glass.
Made a great discovery, stemming
From a mouldy dish, which made the future cheerier
For all of us — except, of course, for the bacteria.
Has a posh degree
And has connected every pleb
On the www.
Placed all o’ you and all o’ me
At the centre of all of it.
He was off by a bit.
John Logie Baird
Despite widespread derision,
To invent the television.
Gave symbolic logic a poetic face
But took mathematics from her mother, rather
Than her father.
Sir Francis Bacon
Said evidence shows if a theory’s mistaken;
Bear that in mind when somebody says
He wrote plays.
Finally left his Bavarian home
At his Mum’s insistence…
When he showed resistance.
C. Paul Evans
No. 3222: group think
You are invited to supply a dystopian short story that incorporates as many collective nouns for animals or birds as possible. Please email entries (maximum 150 words; please italicise collective nouns) to firstname.lastname@example.org by midday on 20 October.
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