26 April 2011


Continuing my occasional habit of inflicting childhood poetic memories on innocent readers, here is one which I remember with particular affection. It was introduced to my class by Ian Murray, grade 6 teacher at Elizabeth Grove Primary School in 1964.

Whatever else may have been good or bad about Australian primary education at that time, the teachers I encountered at Elizabeth Grove Primary had a knack for choosing poetry which would arouse my love of the form. There is a direct line (an elephone line, perhaps) of development from poems like this (and these) in my late primary years to my later embracing of Milton's Paradise lost, Dante's Divina commedia, T S Eliot's Four quartets, Muriel Rukayser's Speed of darkness, Elizabeth Browning's Aurora Leigh, Frank Jones' Everything is like fire...

Here you go ... Laura E Richards' Eletelephony

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 think I'd better drop the song
Of elephop and telephong!)

It's possible that the last two lines are apocryphal. The version shown at The literature network lacks them. Other on line versions include them, or something like them, though some omit other lines. Ray Girvan would get to the bottom of it and track down the definitive version; so, if I were the respectable academic I pretend to be, would I; but my affection is for the version I remember, so let it stand.

(The spell checker has had a ball with this post, let me tell you.)


Ray Girvan said...

my affection is for the version I remember, so let it stand

There is no problem: Google Books multiply confirms your version.

Ray Girvan said...

Though I'm sure they do it online these days: E-eletelephony.

Felix said...

Ray - thanks :-)

I seem to have gotten one word wrong ("I think I'd better..." where it ought to be "...fear...") but I can live with that!

I like the idea of elEmail... :-)