Education  |   August 2019
Clerihews for Chloroform
Author Notes
  • From the Department of Anesthesiology, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
  • Accepted for publication March 26, 2019.
    Accepted for publication March 26, 2019.×
Article Information
Education / Mind to Mind / Central and Peripheral Nervous Systems / Gastrointestinal and Hepatic Systems / Neuromuscular Diseases and Drugs / Ophthalmologic Anesthesia / Pain Medicine
Education   |   August 2019
Clerihews for Chloroform
Anesthesiology 8 2019, Vol.131, 439-440. doi:10.1097/ALN.0000000000002760
Anesthesiology 8 2019, Vol.131, 439-440. doi:10.1097/ALN.0000000000002760
A Clerihew is a four-line comic poem with a rigid rhyming scheme, aabb, but no metric requirements. This poetic form was invented by E. C. (Edmund Clerihew) Bentley (1875–1956), British humorist and author. Bentley’s Clerihews always began with the name of a famous person or character to create a rhyming challenge. The remaining three lines “roasted” the figure, sometimes in a historical context. If Bentley hoped he was inventing a poetic form to replace the limerick, he was unsuccessful, since most anesthesiologists have never heard of a Clerihew. I became aware of them when I was loaned a delightful book entitled The Lost Clerihews of Paul Ingram.1  Below are six Clerihews that I composed about individuals who played a significant role in the early history of chloroform anesthesia. With each is a reference pertinent to the Clerihew so that this collection could serve as a basis for an anesthesia history journal club.
Robert Mortimer Glover
Could never get over
Getting little praise
For his dog days.2 
James Young Simpson
Would have turned crimson
If one were to suggest
Ether was the best.3 
Francis Brodie Imlach
Was the first to extract
Without pain a dentist’s tooth
After neighbor Simpson’s proof.4 
Jane Carstairs,
First of the OB dares,
Christened daughter Wilhelmina
Whom Simpson named Anesthesia.5 
Hannah Greener,
A healthy fifteener,
Earned unwanted fame
When chloroform was the blame.6 
John Snow
Was able to show
Precision is required
When chloroform is inspired.7 
Ingram, P . The Lost Clerihews of Paul Ingram. 2014. North Liberty, IA: Ice Cube Press LLC
Defalque, RJ, Wright, AJ . The short, tragic life of Robert M. Glover. Anaesthesia 2004; 59:394–400 [Article] [PubMed]
Simpson, JY . On a new anaesthetic agent, more efficient than sulphuric ether. Lancet 1847; 2:549–50 [Article]
Francis Brodie Imlach. Wikipedia. Available at: Accessed January 1, 2019
Defalque, RJ, Wright, AJ . The myth of baby “Anaesthesia.” Anesthesiology 2009; 111:682 [Article] [PubMed]
Knight, PR3rd, Bacon, DR . An unexplained death: Hannah Greener and chloroform. Anesthesiology 2002; 96:1250–3 [Article] [PubMed]
Ramsay, MAE, John Snow, MD . Anaesthetist to the Queen of England and pioneer epidemiologist. Proc (Bayl Univ Med Cent) 2006; 19:24–8 [Article] [PubMed]