Portrait of Laura e Richards

Welcome back to the Richmond Read-along! Today we’re reading a nonsense poem by Laura E Richards. Richards was an American author who wrote numerous biographies and children’s novels, as well as nursery rhymes and poems. She was also one of the first recipients of a Pulitzer Prize, being awarded it in 1917, its first year. She won the award for her biography of her mother, Julia Ward Howe. Howe was an abolitionist, advocate for women’s suffrage, and an author.

Today’s poem is arguably Richard’s most famous due to its inclusion in an episode of Sesame Street.


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!)

You can find this poem, along with other works by Richards, on American Literature. You can also find it in this biography of Richards.

We’ll see you tomorrow for the next Richmond Read-along!