Grues and Clerihews
GRUE refers to a comically sadistic and grisly little poem of four lines. Coined by Robert Louis Stevenson, the word comes from gruesome. Here's an example of a grue:
Daddy and his tidy spouse
Killed all the kiddies in the house.
Mommy said, when Daddy cried,
"Come on, let's get the ones outside!"
These poems are sometimes called "Little Willies" after the character who appears in many of them:
Willie poisoned father's tea;
Father died in agony.
Mother looked extremely vexed;
"Really, Will," she said, "what next?"
Henry Graham wrote a collection of grues called Ruthless Rhymes for Heartless Homes under the pseudonym Col. D. Streamer. Here are two of his offerings:
Father heard his children scream,
So he threw them in the stream,
Saying as he drowned the third,
"Children should be seen, not heard!"
Billy, in one of his nice new sashes,
Fell in the fire and was burned to ashes.
Now, although the room grows chilly,
I haven't the heart to poke poor Billy.
CLERIHEW is another type of four line poem with a rhyme scheme aabb. Invented by Edmund Clerihew Bentley (1875-1956), the clerihew is about an actual person, whose name constitutes the first line. Unlike the grue, the clerihew has no strict rhythm or meter:
Came up with some pretty ridiculous names,
E.g., "Casper Good-
Sir Humphrey Davy
He lived in the odium
Of having discovered sodium.
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