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A Baseless (Auto)biography

While studying early- to mid-20th Century British authors a few years back, Ike (a highly intelligent, erudite pitbull-corgi-lab-collie mix) took particular delight in the work of Edmund Clerihew Bentley [1875-1956], “man of letters,” close friend of G.K. Chesterton, writer of detective novels, and inventor - at age 16 while a student at St. Paul’s - of the “clerihew”.

A clerihew is a simple biographical, 4-line verse in an aabb rhyming pattern. As basic as it is, Bentley applied some rules. The lines should be of unequal length and the name of the subject ideally should be placed at the end of the first line to make the rhyming all the more absurd and challenging. The clerihew’s charm lies in its clunky, tortured couplets and a playful irreverence to the subject featured. Bentley described his invention as “baseless biographies”. An example of one of his clerihews:

‘Steady the Greeks!’ shouted Aeschylus.

‘We won’t let such dogs as these kill us.’

Nothing, he thought, could be bizarrer than

the Persians winning at Marathon.

Ike's nature is one of dignified seriousness, but underneath his stoicism lurks a puckish sense of humor. He enjoys moments of utter silliness that send him racing around the pastures in wide circles, ears flapping and eyes sparkling maniacally with joy and what I can only assume is the canine version of silent laughter. So it is no wonder that the inane clerihew appeals to him. 

For weeks after discovering Bentley, I could get nothing out of Ike except in the form of poems that more often than not had him rolling onto his back with glee at his own wit, while I looked on bemused. As the reader will note, Ike’s creations do not adhere strictly to Bentley’s rules, but perhaps this shortcoming can be forgiven. Ike is, after all, a dog and his first language is canine, not English.

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The Life of Ike series cover
A is for Antikythera episode cover
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The Life of Ike

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A collection of autobiographical poems in the style of Edmund C. Bentley’s “clerihews”, written by a highly intelligent, erudite pitbull-lab-corgi-collie mix.
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