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Poems to Pass the Time During a Time of Stress and Worry

by John Aquino on 03/25/20

As the cornovirus affects the world and people are sheltering at home. I thought some poems designed to be humorous might be of interest.

Two years before he died at the age of 66, the British poet W.H. Auden published a book of poems in 1971 titled American Grafitti. It is an illustrated collection of 60 clerihew, which are short, humorous poems--really just two rhyming couplets of irregular length. The poet Edmund Clerihew Bentley pioneered the form in the early twentieth century with lyrics like this:

It only irritated Brahms/To be tickled under his arms./What really helped him compose/Was to be stroked on his nose.

Toward the end of his life when publishers were still willing to issue anything he wrote, Auden clearly didn't intend his clerihews in American Grafitti to be in the same league as his "The Age of Anxiety" or "The Sea and the Mirror." But they pass the time.

Anyone who has struggled with the works of the philosopher Hegel, could appreciate this Auden clerihew:

No one could every inveigle/George Wilhelm Fredrich Hegel/To offer the slightest apology/For his Phenomenology.

Or this one,  about another philosopher, Immanuel Kant:

When the young Kant/Was told to kiss his aunt/He obeyed the Categorical Must/But only just.

Or this one, 

Sir Humphrey Davy/Detested gravy/And lived in the odium/Of having discovered sodium.

Or this one, which was unpublished, on Joseph Lister, the 19th century British surgeon and pioneer in antiseptic surgery:

Joseph Lister/Never worried his sister/By becoming an alcoholic/His vice was carbolic.

"Carbolic" meaning disinfectant.

I modestly offer a few clerihew of my own:

Michelangelo Buonarroti/Threw an extravagant party/ But it really didn't matter/Because he stayed high on a ladder.

Edgar Allen Poe/Was a difficult man to know/He drank just like a raven/And went around unshaven.

Henry Wadsworth Longfelllow/Was really not a strong fellow/He cried when a reviewer/Wrote his lyrics could be truer.

William Shatner was really irked/That he could no longer play Captain Kirk/He thought to continue this feat/But was unable to fit into the seat.

Fastballer Max Scherzer/Also has a great curve. Zer/Way he batters batters/To him is all that matters.

Copyright 2020 by John T. Aquino





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