The Elf and the Dormouse

20 Nov

It’s mushroom season—it must be, because they are growing everywhere. I snapped some fine specimens on my walk the other day. They always remind me of the fun little poem we learned in school—”The Elf and the Dormouse”

Umbrellas galore! (Photo © 2015 by V. Nesdoly)

The Elf and the Dormouse

Under a toadstool crept a wee Elf,
Out of the rain to shelter himself.

Under the toadstool, sound asleep,
Sat a big Dormouse all in a heap.

Trembled the wee Elf, frightened and yet
Fearing to fly away lest he get wet.

To the next shelter—maybe a mile!
Sudden the wee Elf smiled a wee smile.

Tugged till the toadstool toppled in two
Holding it over him, gaily he flew.

Soon he was safe home, dry as could be.
Soon woke the Dormouse—”Good gracious me!

“Where is my toadstool?” loud he lamented
—And that’s how umbrellas first were invented.

by Oliver Herford (1863-1935)


By the way, do you know what a Dormouse is? As I was typing this out, and noticing Spellcheck’s disapproval of “doormouse” I realized a “dormouse” may be more than a poet’s fanciful playing around with words.

According to Wikipedia and other sources that claim to know,  a dormouse is a rodent in the Glirdae family, mostly found in Europe, and known for an ability to sleep i.e. hibernate!  So Mr. Herford got even that detail right!

Poetry Friday LogoThis post is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted today by Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect.


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11 responses to “The Elf and the Dormouse

  1. jama

    November 20, 2015 at 1:59 pm

    What a charming poem. Those are some unusual mushrooms –haven’t seen any like that around here. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Tabatha

    November 20, 2015 at 3:11 pm

    Sweet poem and great photos! I can just imagine that elf and the “first umbrella.” 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. cbhanek

    November 20, 2015 at 5:55 pm

    So glad you shared that childhood poem–new to me and much enjoyed. (I’m needing and appreciating “light” this week!) Thank you, too, for pointing out the nonfiction details that the poet incorporated, true to his author-integrity, whether anyone knew or noticed the truth and commitment to detail. (p.s. I once wrote a story in which the mushrooms played the same natural umbrella role, though I didn’t credit them for the invention:) God bless you! Thanks for the photo collage. Truth is that I love eating mushrooms more than I like looking at them. Really nice extended family album, nonetheless! Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Brenda Davis Harsham

    November 20, 2015 at 8:19 pm

    My son played a dormouse in a play about Alice in Wonderland and the Wizard of Oz. He had a cockney accent and a sarcastic attitude. I wonder if his character might have been inspired by this poem. Thanks for introducing me to it. I should read it to my son.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Violet N.

      November 21, 2015 at 4:53 pm

      There was a dormouse in Alice in Wonderland, wasn’t there? Thanks for reminding me.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Linda Baie

    November 21, 2015 at 6:35 am

    Way past mushroom time here, but I love the pictures of all the kinds you have, Violet, and that fun poem. I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen it, maybe a long time ago.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Karin Fisher-Golton

    November 21, 2015 at 5:21 pm

    What a clever, funny poem! Your photos are gorgeous.


  7. Julie Larios

    November 22, 2015 at 11:48 am

    Cute poem! (Kind of scary mushrooms….or is it just me?)


    • Violet Nesdoly

      November 23, 2015 at 6:55 am

      Well, Julie, some of them do look a little dark 😉 I wouldn’t eat any of them anytime soon.


  8. Michelle Heidenrich Barnes

    November 22, 2015 at 2:23 pm

    Wow, you get some beautiful mushrooms in your neck of the woods. The ones I see around here are mostly big honkin’ bulbous ones that turn into saucers. Thanks for the fanciful escape today. Makes me think of Mary Poppins!



    November 23, 2015 at 6:26 am

    Thanks for introducing me to that wonderful poem, Violet – so perfectly charming! And your photos – fantastic. Here’s to mushrooms/elf umbrellas. And dormice. Dor mouses?



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