Day 29 NaPoWriMo Write a clerihew or a Double-Dactyl

NaPoWriMo prompt says: Today’s prompt is to write either a clerihew or a double dactyl. These are brief, usually satirical poems. The clerihew is a four-line biographical poem, with an ABAB rhyme scheme and no regular meter. Here is an example:

Sir Humphry Davy
Was not fond of gravy.
He lived in the odium
Of having discovered sodium.

Double-dactyls are a bit longer and harder, with an extremely rigid rhyme/meter. A double dactyl consists of two four-line stanzas. The fourth lines of each stanza rhyme. But the meter is where it gets complicated: The first through third lines of each stanza must be six syllables, in the form of double dactyls (Stressed syllable followed by two unstressed syllables). The fourth line of each stanza is only four syllables long, with no particular meter requirements.

Finally, the first line of the first stanza is usually “Higgledy-piggledy” or some other repeating non-sense, like “Pat-a-cake, Pat-a-cake.” Note that both “higgledy-piggledy” and “pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake” are in the double dactyl form! Here’s one I wrote last year:

One Oliver Perry
Drove Brits from Lake Erie
With tactical ease.

Pressed to explain his great
nautical victory, he
laid all the blame on a
following breeze.

If you’re going to be really strict, one of the lines should consist of a single, six-syllable, double-dactyllic word (like “idiosyncrasy”). I didn’t quite manage that (and my meter’s a bit off), but you might!  Happy writing!

So here are my double-dactyls, two of them. The second one is a three-parter:

Michael I.

Higgledy Piggledy
Michael Ignatieff
harries Conservatives
thinks he knows best

Harper, Prime Minister
refuses to listen
to hacks from the West


A Double Dactyl World History
from the Dinosaur to the Crusades

I. Ptero

rackety clackety
Cossimo Collini
talked of a fossil as
seagoing bird

but pterodactyl, that
strange flying reptile was
if somewhat absurd.

II. Andronicus

hankety pankety
Titus Andronicus
wars with Tamora the
Queen of the Goths

Titus kills Alarbus
tells him Tamora should
now be killed off.

III. Lionheart

Knightily mightily
Richard the Lionheart
went off crusading with
Philip of France.

Wed Berengaria
Daughter of Sancho, their
mere happenstance.

Carol A. Stephen


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