Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Nursery Rhymes and the Meaning of Life.......

When I was a little boy, my mom used to read to me at bedtime.  I can't tell you what a wonderful learning experience that was!  She would read all of the old fairy tales.  She would sometimes read biblical stories that she knew would be of interest to a youngster.  Sometimes she would sing simple songs that I could participate in singing with her.  And quite often, she would recite nursery rhymes.

I was thinking about that last night as I tried to go to sleep.  Some of those nursery rhymes came flooding back to me.......

Mary had a little lamb,
Its fleece was white as snow;
And everywhere that Mary went
The lamb was sure to go.......

Little miss Muffet sat on a tuffet
Eating her curds and whey;
Along came a spider and sat down beside her;
And frightened miss Muffet away.

Hickory dickory dock,
The mouse ran up the clock;
The clock struck one, the mouse ran down;
Hickory dickory dock.......

The itsy bitsy spider ran up the water spout;
Down came the rain and washed the spider out;
Up came the sun and dried up all the rain,
And the itsy bitsy spider went up the spout again.

Oh, the noble Duke of York, he had ten thousand men;
He led them up to the top of the hill and led them down again.
When they were up, they were up; when they were down they were down;
And when they were only half way up they were neither up nor down.

A dillar a dollar, a ten o'clock scholar;
What makes you come so soon?
You used to come at ten O'Clock,
But now you come at noon.

A tisket, a tasket,
A brown and yellow basket;
I sent a letter to my love,
And on the way, I dropped it!......

The owl and the pussy-cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea-green boat;
They took some honey and plenty of money
Wrapped up in a five-pound note.......

We went to the animal fair;
The birds and the beasts were there;
A big baboon by the light of the moon
Was combing his auburn hair.
You ought to have seen the monk;
It jumped on the elephant's trunk;
The elephant sneezed and fell on his knees,
But what became of the monk, the monk, the monk?

Kookaburra sits in an old gum tree;
Merry, merry king of the bush is he;
Laugh, kookaburra! laugh, kookaburra!
Gay your life must be.

Many nursery rhymes were based in fact. One of the most famous of these is:

Ring around the rosies,
A pocketful of posies,
Ashes! Ashes! 
We all fall down.

This rhyme originated in England during the great bubonic plague of 1665.  A symptom of the plague, which had a death rate of over 60%, was a ring shaped rosy red rash on the skin.  The "ashes" refers to the fact that most bodies were cremated.  The plague ended in 1666 when the great fire of London killed most of the rats that carried the disease.

What nursery rhymes to you most remember?


  1. Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall
    Humpty Dumpty had a great fall
    all the king's horses,
    and all the king's men
    couldn't put Humpty together again.

    lol sounds like a politician had a bad day doesn't it?

  2. I was not raised on nursery rhymes or bedtime stories. It wasn't until I went to school that I started hearing some of these. I did know the ring around the rosy origin. Sad, isn't it?

  3. Peter, Peter, pumpkin-eater,
    Had a wife and couldn't keep her;
    He put her in a pumpkin-shell,
    And there he kept her very well.

    How PI is this one? ;-D

  4. None of these nursery rhymes ever made sense to me. Now that you explained the one, I am really creeped out that kids would have a song about the Black Death. Now I am wondering what all the others meant. Very interesting.

  5. There were many that were told to me or read in books by my mother and other older family members. I even had tapes of tales. You mentioned several that I remember. Another:
    Little Jack Horner
    Sat in the corner,
    Eating a Christmas pie;
    He put in his thumb,
    And pulled out a plum,
    And said 'What a good boy am I!

    Have a great day!

  6. I remember all that are mentioned and a few more:

    Jack and Jill went up the hill
    to fetch a pale of water.
    Jack fell down and broke his crown,
    and Jill when tumbling after him.

    Old mother Hubbard went to her cupboard
    to get her poor dog a bone.
    When she got there the cupboard was bare,
    so her poor dog got none.

    Sort of weird how I can still remember all these children nursery rhymes after all these years... God bless, Lloyd

  7. Hi Clint,
    I caused quite a stir with my grand daughter when she went to school because I changed the words to Rock-A-Bye Baby to be kinder and she got into an arguement with the teacher on how the song was sung stating, "I know how it goes, my Nana taught me." My version went -

    Rock-a-bye baby
    up in the tree
    I am your Nana
    look at me
    I'll always be here
    if you should fall
    I'll be here to catch you
    cradle and all.

    Much better version, I thought. Opps!

  8. I have a very old folk song:

    1. Suse, Suse love what rustles in the straw?
    The geese go barefoot and do not have a / boot.
    The shoemaker has / s leather, no strips to
    now he can not make the gosling / shoe.
    2. Aia poppeia beats, / s Gockerle dead!
    He lays no eggs and I eat my bread.
    So we pick it out of the feathers,
    and the child a little bed out of it.
    3. Aia, poppeia, this is an emergency!
    Who gives me a Heller to sugar and bread?
    I sell my bed and lay down on the straw,
    then stabs me no pen and no flea bites me.

    Greetings Sabine

  9. Did you know Clint The B lack Plague started at a seaside town on the south coast of England called Weymouth. We lived there for nearly 30 yrs as a family , after becoming a widow I moved.
    The Owl and The Pussy Cat was and is the only poem I could remember all the way through as I hated poetry at school.

    Thanks for all these memories but gosh I do feel my age now.


  10. my mom did the same for us and we loved it. we also loved when she told us funny stories of when we were babies. one time we couldn't wait for the jell-o to be finished in the fridge. we went to check on it and dumped the whole bowl on the floor. she found us slipping and sliding, trying to make a quick getaway!=)

    my favorite story was of hansel and gretel. i always imagined that it is my brother and me in the story. i also liked jack and the beanstalk.=)

  11. Humpty dumpty was like a politician, it was the king. Most nursery rhymes have dark or double meanings. Lizzy Borden is one of them that was popular in the US Lizzy Borden took an axe gave her mother 40 whacks.
    I liked the Wizard of Oz and it was originally a political story, of sound money. William Jennings Bryant was a proponent of sound money in his day. Frank Baum supported his presidential candidacy.

  12. Hi Clint,
    Thank you for bringing these back to my memory plus I learned something today. The story behing ring around the rosies...
    God bless you,

  13. When I was young, I lived in a real English Vicarage, looking after the children there, for about a year. I studied in London for a couple of years, but my time in the country vicarage stands out. And memories came flooding back for me also, reading this post. Thank you.--Inger

  14. You have a wonderful Mom. I don't even remember reading to my children. I think the reliability on tv started early. My Mom taught me Jack and Jill, and many more and they are all at the tip of my tongue but I just could not remember. And she taught me Que Sera Sera;)

    The last nursery rhyme was really interesting but of course sad and scary.

  15. I had such a delightful time visiting your blog this morning Clint. First off, the nursery rhymes did bring back so many memories of my own childhood and those of my three children, the very nursery rhymes you posted. I scrolled down to look at the lovely flower memories you shared, including the honey suckle and the jasmine and the scent of freshly laundered clothes handing on the line (which we still do here in our country). Lovely mother memories, CLint. I appreciate the fact that you had good mothering which stirred up by your recent visit with her. All your other posts on this page were beautifully shared. I read each one with interest. I also love Mexican food, and I can never say no to one or two classic margaritas, the only drink with liquor in it that I like. The story of the stale bologna sandwich shared at the picnic, the pictures of your lovely home with the weeping cherry tree in front... my you had so many posts up in just a week! I am just so glad I was able to drop by this morning to catch up with your past week's posts.

    Hope Cindy is feeling better already.Congratulations on your new home.

    I personally do not like overdecorated blogs that take forever to load. If ever mine takes a while, it is because of the pictures, but I do not have apps and cutsies and all those blog gadgets found on high tech blogs that you posted about. For me, simple is beautiful... that's me. So I agree with your stand on this.

    Enough said... but just wanted to share my response after reading eight posts of yours in one sitting.

    Blessings on your day...


  16. Thank you! I do know one! the itchy bitsy spider one! I know lot's more but they are all Dutch!

    I'm gonna save these, maybe i can use them someday???

  17. Always read nursery rhymes to my kids, until one day my husband was listening and said it was Horribly Scary reads for the kids;)

  18. A few fairy tales, but I remember a Song which I've learned in Canada:

    Twinkel twinkel little star....

    I had to sing this song whenever I had the son of a friend with me overnight.

    Have a beautiful day and greetings to you

  19. One of my most vivid school memories was our head teacher explaining the plague to us. He probably only did it two or three times but it felt like he'd talk about it every week. Such vivid images in my head, even now. Thanks for the reminder.