Hello? -- Oh! An elephant from my childhood is calling. Perhaps you knew him, too?
He's the hapless pachyderm who got all wrapped up in a phone call in Laura Elizabeth Richards's "Eletelephony." Raise your hand if you remember when telephones had actual cords....
This poetic companion is going to join me Saturday in Augusta, where I'll be doing a children's poetry presentation at the Georgia Literary Festival. (Fingers crossed - it's outside, and there's a 90 percent chance of rain!) I'm looking forward to driving over with my author buddy Kami Kinard and squeezing in a visit with an Augusta friend, too. We lived there for nine years while my hubby was in med school and residency; both our babies were born there.
I look forward to sharing lots of poetry with whoever shows up - especially some found poems from THE ARROW FINDS ITS MARK (Georgia Heard, ed., Roaring Brook) and several from THE POETRY FRIDAY ANTHOLOGY series (Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong, eds., Pomelo Books).
But back to "Eletelephony" - did you know that Laura Elizabeth Richards (1850-1943), in addition to writing 90 books (!) and many children's poems, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1917 for co-authoring a biography of her mother, Julia Ward Howe, writer of the words to The Battle Hymn of the Republic? Her father, Dr. Samuel Gridley Howe, was an abolitionist and founded the Perkins Institution and Massachusetts School for the Blind. Laura E. Richards left a rich and varied body of literary works.
I didn't know any of that when, as a young child, I first read "Eletelephony." I just know that this poem tickled my fancy and helped open the door for a lifelong love of wordplay, as I'm sure it did for lots of folks throughout the decades. Enjoy!
by Laura Elizabeth Richards
Once there was an elephant,
Who tried to use the telephant—
No! No! I mean an elephone
Who tried to use the telephone—
(Dear me! I am not certain quite
That even now I’ve got it right.)
Howe’er it was, he got his trunk
Entangled in the telephunk;
The more he tried to get it free,
The louder buzzed the telephee—
(I fear I’d better drop the song
Of elephop and telephong!)
For more fancy-tickling poetry today, please visit the lovely Katya at Write. Sketch. Repeat. for this week's Roundup. [And apologies for being a bit out of the loop lately; last week it was my privilege to share poetry and all kinds of writing with about 2,000 students in and around Cobb County as part of Cobb EMC's Literacy Week. I look forward to getting back home Saturday night and staying put for a while, at least until the holidays!]