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Was there a real Mother Goose?

Was there a real Mother Goose?

If you’ve ever visited the Old Granary Burying Ground in Boston, Massachusetts, you may have stumbled upon the tombstone of Mary Goose, a woman believed by some to be the infamous author of countless cherished nursery rhymes: Mother Goose. Visitors toss coins at her tombstone, presumably to garner a bit of good luck, but the woman who was buried there in 1690 is undoubtedly not the original Mother Goose. According to local legend, it was the widowed Isaac Goose’s second wife, Elizabeth Foster Goose, who entertained her numerous grandchildren and other youngsters with songs and rhymes that were purportedly published by her son-in-law in 1719. Yet despite repeated searches for a copy of this collection, no evidence of its existence has ever been uncovered. Regardless, most historians agree that neither Mary nor Elizabeth created the stories that have passed on from generation to generation.

In fact, the etymology of the moniker “Mother Goose” may have evolved over centuries, originating as early as the 8th century with Bertrada II of Laon (mother of Charlemagne, the first emperor of the Holy Roman Empire) who was a patroness of children known as “Goose-foot Bertha” or “Queen Goosefoot” due to a malformation of her foot.

By the mid-17th century, “mere l’oye” or “mere oye” (Mother Goose) was a phrase commonly used in France to describe a woman who captivated children with delightful tales. In 1697, Charles Perrault published a collection of folktales with the subtitle “Contes de ma mère l’oye” (Tales from my Mother Goose), which became beloved throughout France and was translated into English in 1729. And in England, circa 1765, John Newbery published the wildly popular “Mother Goose’s Melody, or, Sonnets for the Cradle,” which indelibly shifted the association of Mother Goose from folktales to nursery rhymes and children’s poetry, and which influenced nearly every subsequent Mother Goose publication.


Boston's Mother Goose

Mary Goose, in error, has often been called the original Mother Goose. The following describes the history surrounding the myth of Boston's Mother Goose, with some of the ancient nursery rhymes listed at the bottom of the page.

Isaac Goose was a wealthy landowner in Boston who married Mary Balston. She died in 1690, and was buried at Granary Burying Ground. Mary Goose bore ten children with Isaac. After Mary's death, Isaac married Elizabeth Foster of Charlestown, and she had six children. One of those children was also named Elizabeth.

On June 8, 1715, Thomas Fleet married the younger Elizabeth. Fleet was a prominent printer in Boston, having recently fled from England during the Queen Anne Riots. They lived in a residence on Pudding Lane (Devonshire Street), that also contained the printing shop. Thomas and Elizabeth then had a son.

Elizabeth (Foster) Goose, "like all good grandmothers, was in ecstasies at the event she spent her whole time in the nursery, and wandering the house, pouring forth, in not the most melodious strains, the songs and ditties which she had learned in her younger days, greatly to the annoyance of the entire neighborhood, to [Thomas] Fleet in particular, who was a man fond of quiet." After some time, Fleet gave up in attempting to convince his mother-in-law to subdue this behavior, and contrived to document her melodies—as well as rhymes from other sources—and publish them in a book.

In 1719, Fleet published the book Songs for the Nursery or, Mother Goose's Melodies for Children. In 1833, only one copy of this book apparently still existed, and was re-published as The Only True Mother Goose. It is due to this book that the myth began that Mother Goose originated in Boston. What was in reality a compilation from multiple sources was likely embellished because the mother-in-law's name was Goose.

Thomas Fleet's book was likely the first use of the pseudonym Mother Goose in English America. The earliest reference in history found for Mother Goose dates to 1650, in Jean Loret's La Muze Historique as part of a poem. Charles Perrrault later published a book of children's tales in 1696 called Contes de ma Mère L'Oye, which included the famous Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella stories.

So Mary Goose, who has been incorrectly called the True Mother Goose or Boston's Mother Goose, was not even related to Elizabeth Goose, the mother-in-law that inspired Thomas Fleet to publish a book of children's nursery rhymes. The myth was apparently created to make her gravestone a tourist attraction, and was successful at achieving this goal in the 1950s through 1970s. Mary Goose had died in 1690, while the Mother Goose book did not get published until 1719.


Who Is The Real Mother Goose and Why Does She Have Her Own Holiday?

Every May 1, Mother Goose Day honors classic nursery rhymes like, "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" and "Humpty Dumpty," which were first published in 1697.

Due to the character's popularity, Mother Goose Day started in 1987. That same year, founder and author Gloria Delamar wrote Mother Goose From Nursery to Literature, which traced the history of the character's evolution. Before being portrayed as a human-sized waterfowl with thick glasses and a bonnet, the legendary Mother Goose was illustrated as a sweet elderly woman who magically traveled on the back of a male goose, also known as a gander.

The beloved children's character was often depicted singing the famous nursery rhymes children. Enchanted by her singing voice, the children would swarm around her and quietly listen as "Humpty Dumpty had a great fall." Now when you think Humpty Dumpty, you probably think egg, right? Well interestingly enough, that word isn't mentioned once in the verse! There's some trivia for you.

Back in 1697, the fictional character made her first appearance in French author Charles Perrault's collection of rhymes and fairy tales titled Les Contes de ma Mère l'Oie or Tales of my Mother Goose. According to the Poetry Foundation, British readers discovered the female protagonist when English writer Robert Samber translated the text in 1786.

Historians have disproved several legends that Mother Goose was based on an actual person though some people still believe she was one. In October 996, King Robert II of France, also known as the Wise, married his second wife. Nicknamed "Queen Goose-Foot" because of her misshaped feet, Bertha of Burgundy was believed to be a wonderful storyteller when she was around their children though she never had children of her own. There is no evidence that Bertha spawned the tales, however.

Because printer Isaiah Thomas published Samber's volume in 1786 for American audiences, legend circulated that Mary Goose from Boston, Massachusetts served as the inspiration for Mother Goose. Buried at the Granary Burying Ground cemetery since 1690, though disproven, tourists toss their coins to this day at Mary's tombstone for good luck.

To celebrate Mother Goose Day, join me and lay down some beats to these classic rhymes, "Down came the rain and washed the spider out."


Mother Goose: A Brief History

We all know and love Mother Goose and her rhymes however, we don’t know very much about the actual woman who was dubbed Mother Goose, if there even was such a woman, or the history of the rhymes she is credited with creating. Let’s explore her literary legacy and the purported, oft disputed, history of this fun, beloved figure.

Though she is well-known in the United Kingdom and most other countries where English is the native language, like Australia, Mother Goose is best known in the United States, where her stories are known as nursery rhymes. In the United Kingdom, Mother Goose is commonly known as a Christmastime pantomime, while the rhymes themselves are associated with a number of different popular and classical British pantomimes.

While Mother Goose is supposedly the author of these nursery rhymes, whether or not there is a woman specifically and officially known as Mother Goose has been disputed often as more than one country claims her as their native daughter. However, there are many purported facts and ideas about her and who she was. The first mention of Mother Goose is in 1650, in a weekly French publication done in verse, which was published by Jean Loret. The remark he made, “…comme un conte de la Mere Oye,”, translates into “like a Mother Goose story.” His use of this term, “un conte de la Mere Oye,” suggests public familiarity with the term and whatever it connotes.

Although there seems to be a veritable history in the United Kingdom dating from around 1660, many people believe that the real Mother Goose was actually the second wife of Isaac Goose, who lived in Boston, Massachusetts during the 17th century. This wife would either have been Elizabeth Foster Goose, who lived from 1635 to 1693, or Mary Goose, who lived from 1665 to 1758. The latter is interred in Boston’s Granary Burying Ground located on Tremont Street. Eleanor Early, a popular history and travel writer in Boston during the 1930s and 1940s, alleges that Mother Goose was the second wife of Isaac Goose when she married Isaac, she brought her six children into the marriage to join the ten children he already had. It is believed that after Isaac died, Elizabeth moved in with her oldest daughter, who lived on Pudding Lane and was married to Thomas Fleet. Fleet, a publisher, finally gathered all of his mother-in-law’s songs and rhymes, which she told to all of her grandchildren, and published them.

Katherine Elwes Thomas wrote The Real Personages of Mother Goose in 1930, in which she suggests that Mother Goose might actually be based upon stories told about the wife of France’s King Robert II, “Goose-Footed Bertha,” who, legend has it, told incredible stories which were loved by children.

However, Iona Opie, the self-proclaimed Mother Goose expert, doesn’t give credence to Thomas’s suggestion or the claim that Mother Goose was from Boston. In fact, one of the most popular early collections of fairy tales, penned by Charles Perrault in France and published in 1695, was known as “Contes de ma mère l’Oye,” or “Tales of my Mother Goose.” When the collection was translated into English and published in 1729 by Robert Sambers, it was called “Histories or Tales of Past Times, Told by Mother Goose”. It is also alleged that John Newberry then took the idea of Mother Goose, collected a number of English rhymes and stories and published them in 1765, calling his book “Mother Goose’s Melody”, or, “Sonnets for the Cradle”.
In some cases, Mother Goose rhymes are translations of traditional rhymes and stories from other countries, most notably France.

Regardless of where they originated or who they first came from, Mother Goose rhymes are traditional rhymes and stories, collected from the United Kingdom and the United States, that have entertained children for hundreds of years.


2. John Newbery’s Mother Goose’s Melody

In about 1765, John Newbery, an English publisher, adopted the Mother Goose name for a collection of mostly traditional rhymes.

The book was called Mother Goose's Melody: or Sonnets for the Cradle.ਊnd changed the focus from fairy tales to nursery rhymes.

Again, there was no explanation of who the real Mother Goose was. 


Tales of the Mother Goose and its origins

There are innumerable tales that one can find in any kind of Mother Goose collection. There are lots many collections today and the origin of such tales are soaked in history, belonging to a by gone era where children were told folk stories. It's widely accepted that the 1st publication containing a nursery rhyme collection was made available in 1744, while the 1st confirmed Nursery Rhymes collection using the term "Mother Goose" dates back to 1780. There are also traces that a collection of stories named "Mother Goose's Tales" was printed and published in 1729! The term "Mother Goose" became favouable amongst publishers, printers and the population in general. Soon the illustrations that were a part of 'Mother Goose' publication depicted her as an old crone, or a witch. There have the numerous claims that have said to own the term 'Mother Goose', we will go on to discuss.

The French Are Credited To Have Founded The Term Mother Goose

If at all one were to look for a real mother goose, then she can be traced back the 8th Century when a noblewoman named Bertrada II of Laon who, in the year 740, wed Pepin the Short, King of the Franks, and then in 2 years time gave birth to their son Charles, named Charlemagne, also remembered as de facto founder & establisher of the Holy Roman Empire. Bertrada, played a significant role as a patroness of children and imparted upon her all conquering son his only education, she was even referred to as Berte aux grand pied, or Bertha Goosefoot.

This is the little of what is known of Bertrada's role and by the turn of the seventeenth Century mere l'oye referred to as a mythical Mother Goose by French peasants and nobility similar to that of a fairy birdmother who recited charming tales to children. A few of such stories were made available through print as early as 1637 in Giambattista Basile's Italian stories collection entitled The Pentamerone There is another collection belonging to one more Italian named Giovanni Francesco Straparola, to whose credit there are seventy-three folktales collected in Facetious Nights (1550-1554). These tales from Giovanni Francesco Straparola served as a source for plays by both Moliere and Shakespeare.

In the year 1697 a Frenchmen named Charles Peerault published a masterpiece containing 8 famous folk tales which included the likes of "Sleeping Beauty", "Cinderella" & "Little Red Riding Hood". The book was titled "Histories and Tales of Long Ago, with Morals". The opening page or the title page had the words "Contes de ma mere l'Oye" meaning "Tales of Mother Goose" engraved but none of the rhymes could be termed having any relevance with Mother Goose, a large section of which have originated from England. The illustration on the title page showed an old aged witch-like lady spinning & telling stories.

Mother Goose Stories In England

In 1729 Perrault's tales originally published in French were translated into English by Robert Samber and then published as well. "Mother Goose's Tales" these were the words used to describe the book. In 1744, John Newbery who happened to a be a publisher as well as a bookseller published his 1st children's book called "The Little Pretty Pocket Book" and he dedicated this book to Guardians, Parents & Nurses residing in Great Britain and Ireland. The book turned out to be an instant hit and opened a new market where children's books and rhymes became an important part of the culture. In the year Newbery released his most successful publication titled "Little Goody Two Shoes". Upon his death in 1780, Thomas Carnan, the step of John Newbery became the publication's new owner of the Newbery Publishing House. Thomas Carnan then began using the term "Mother Goose's Melody - or Sonnets for the Cradle" at London Stationer's Hall.

Mother Goose Stories In America

In 1787, Isaiah Thomas published the 1st American edition of Mother Goose's Melody: or Sonnets for the Cradle that had favorites such as Jack & Jill and also Little Tommy Tucker, additionally there were 50 more such rhymes. With the passage of time editors have widened the Thomas' modest collection, but in reality old tales and rhymes that have originated from European antiquity continue to be amongst collections of as many as seven hundred rhymes, stories, and riddles.


THE REAL MOTHER GOOSE

Little Bo-Peep has lost her sheep,
And can't tell where to find them
Leave them alone, and they'll come home,
And bring their tails behind them.

Little Bo-Peep fell fast asleep,
And dreamt she heard them bleating
But when she awoke, she found it a joke,
For still they all were fleeting.

Then up she took her little crook,
Determined for to find them
She found them indeed, but it made her heart bleed,
For they'd left all their tails behind 'em!

It happened one day, as Bo-peep did stray
Unto a meadow hard by--
There she espied their tails, side by side,
All hung on a tree to dry.

She heaved a sigh and wiped her eye,
And over the hillocks she raced
And tried what she could, as a shepherdess should,
That each tail should be properly placed.

There's a neat little clock,--
In the schoolroom it stands,--
And it points to the time
With its two little hands.

And may we, like the clock,
Keep a face clean and bright,
With hands ever ready
To do what is right.

Cold and raw the north wind doth blow,
Bleak in the morning early
All the hills are covered with snow,
And winter's now come fairly.


Dame Trot and her cat
Led a peaceable life,
When they were not troubled
With other folks' strife.

When Dame had her dinner
Pussy would wait,
And was sure to receive
A nice piece from her plate.

Three children sliding on the ice
Upon a summer's day,
As it fell out, they all fell in,
The rest they ran away.

Oh, had these children been at school,
Or sliding on dry ground,
Ten thousand pounds to one penny
They had not then been drowned.

Ye parents who have children dear,
And ye, too, who have none,
If you would keep them safe abroad
Pray keep them safe at home.

Cross patch, draw the latch,
Sit by the fire and spin
Take a cup and drink it up,
Then call your neighbors in.

Tweedle-dum and Tweedle-dee
Resolved to have a battle,
For Tweedle-dum said Tweedle-dee
Had spoiled his nice new rattle.

Just then flew by a monstrous crow,
As big as a tar barrel,
Which frightened both the heroes so,
They quite forgot their quarrel.


Dear, dear! what can the matter be?
Two old women got up in an apple-tree
One came down, and the other stayed till Saturday.

Little Robin Redbreast sat upon a tree,
Up went Pussy-Cat, down went he,
Down came Pussy-Cat, away Robin ran,
Says little Robin Redbreast: "Catch me if you can!"

Little Robin Redbreast jumped upon a spade,
Pussy-Cat jumped after him, and then he was afraid.
Little Robin chirped and sang, and what did Pussy say?
Pussy-Cat said: "Mew, mew, mew," and Robin flew away.


Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake,
Baker's man!
So I do, master,
As fast as I can.

Pat it, and prick it,
And mark it with T,
Put it in the oven
For Tommy and me.

"Lend me thy mare to ride a mile."
"She is lamed, leaping over a stile."

"Alack! and I must keep the fair!
I'll give thee money for thy mare."

"Oh, oh! say you so?
Money will make the mare to go!"

Trip upon trenchers,
And dance upon dishes,
My mother sent me for some barm, some barm
She bid me go lightly,
And come again quickly,
For fear the young men should do me some harm.
Yet didn't you see, yet didn't you see,
What naughty tricks they put upon me?
They broke my pitcher
And spilt the water,
And huffed my mother,
And chid her daughter,
And kissed my sister instead of me.


As I was going to St. Ives
I met a man with seven wives.
Every wife had seven sacks,
Every sack had seven cats,
Every cat had seven kits.
Kits, cats, sacks, and wives,
How many were going to St. Ives?


Hush, baby, my dolly, I pray you don't cry,
And I'll give you some bread, and some milk by-and-by
Or perhaps you like custard, or, maybe, a tart,
Then to either you're welcome, with all my heart.


A swarm of bees in May
Is worth a load of hay
A swarm of bees in June
Is worth a silver spoon
A swarm of bees in July
Is not worth a fly.



Girls and boys, come out to play,
The moon doth shine as bright as day
Leave your supper, and leave your sleep,
And come with your playfellows into the street.
Come with a whoop, come with a call,
Come with a good will or not at all.
Up the ladder and down the wall,
A half-penny roll will serve us all.
You find milk, and I'll find flour,
And we'll have a pudding in half an hour.

If I'd as much money as I could spend,
I never would cry old chairs to mend
Old chairs to mend, old chairs to mend
I never would cry old chairs to mend.

If I'd as much money as I could tell,
I never would cry old clothes to sell
Old clothes to sell, old clothes to sell
I never would cry old clothes to sell.


There was a little man,
Who wooed a little maid,
And he said, "Little maid, will you wed, wed, wed?
I have little more to say,
So will you, yea or nay,
For least said is soonest mended-ded, ded, ded."

The little maid replied,
"Should I be your little bride,
Pray what must we have for to eat, eat, eat?
Will the flame that you're so rich in
Light a fire in the kitchen?
Or the little god of love turn the spit, spit, spit?"

Here goes my lord
A trot, a trot, a trot, a trot,
Here goes my lady
A canter, a canter, a canter, a canter!

Here goes my young master
Jockey-hitch, jockey-hitch, jockey-hitch, jockey-hitch!
Here goes my young miss
An amble, an amble, an amble, an amble!

The footman lags behind to tipple ale and wine,
And goes gallop, a gallop, a gallop, to make up his time.


I had a little hen, the prettiest ever seen,
She washed me the dishes and kept the house clean
She went to the mill to fetch me some flour,
She brought it home in less than an hour
She baked me my bread, she brewed me my ale,
She sat by the fire and told many a fine tale.


There were two birds sat on a stone,
Fa, la, la, la, lal, de
One flew away, and then there was one,
Fa, la, la, la, lal, de
The other bird flew after,
And then there was none,
Fa, la, la, la, lal, de
And so the stone
Was left alone,
Fa, la, la, la, lal, de.


Lucy Locket lost her pocket,
Kitty Fisher found it
Nothing in it, nothing in it,
But the binding round it.

'Twas once upon a time, when Jenny Wren was young,
So daintily she danced and so prettily she sung,
Robin Redbreast lost his heart, for he was a gallant bird.
So he doffed his hat to Jenny Wren, requesting to be heard.

"Oh, dearest Jenny Wren, if you will but be mine,
You shall feed on cherry pie and drink new currant wine,
I'll dress you like a goldfinch or any peacock gay,
So, dearest Jen, if you'll be mine, let us appoint the day."

Jenny blushed behind her fan and thus declared her mind:
"Since, dearest Bob, I love you well, I'll take your offer kind.
Cherry pie is very nice and so is currant wine,
But I must wear my plain brown gown and never go too fine."


Dickory, dickory, dare,
The pig flew up in the air
The man in brown soon brought
him down,
Dickory,
dickory,
dare.



Burnie bee, burnie bee,
Tell me when your wedding be?
If it be to-morrow day,
Take your wings and fly away.


Three wise men of Gotham
Went to sea in a bowl
If the bowl had been stronger
My song had been longer.

A man went a-hunting at Reigate,
And wished to leap over a high gate.
Says the owner, "Go round,
With your gun and your hound,
For you never shall leap over my gate."

Ride away, ride away,
Johnny shall ride,
And he shall have pussy-cat
Tied to one side
And he shall have little dog
Tied to the other,
And Johnny shall ride
To see his grandmother.


As I was going up Pippen Hill,
Pippen Hill was dirty
There I met a pretty Miss,
And she dropped me a curtsy.

Little Miss, pretty Miss,
Blessings light upon you
If I had half-a-crown a day,
I'd spend it all upon you.

"Pussy-cat, pussy-cat,
Where have you been?"
"I've been to London
To look at the Queen."

"Pussy-cat, pussy-cat,
What did you there?"
"I frightened a little mouse
Under the chair."

Mister East gave a feast
Mister North laid the cloth
Mister West did his best
Mister South burnt his mouth
Eating cold potato.

"I went up one pair of stairs."
"Just like me."

"I went up two pairs of stairs."
"Just like me."

"I went into a room."
"Just like me."

"I looked out of a window."
"Just like me."

"And there I saw a monkey."
"Just like me."


A carrion crow sat on an oak,
Fol de riddle, lol de riddle, hi ding do,
Watching a tailor shape his cloak
Sing heigh-ho, the carrion crow,
Fol de riddle, lol de riddle, hi ding do!

Wife, bring me my old bent bow,
Fol de riddle, lol de riddle, hi ding do,
That I may shoot yon carrion crow
Sing heigh-ho, the carrion crow,
Fol de riddle, loi de riddle, hi ding do!

The tailor he shot, and missed his mark,
Fol de riddle, lol de riddle, hi ding do!
And shot his own sow quite through the heart
Sing heigh-ho, the carrion crow,
Fol de riddle, lol de riddle, hi ding do!

Wife! bring brandy in a spoon,
Fol de riddle, lol de riddle, hi ding do!
For our old sow is in a swoon
Sing heigh-ho, the carrion crow,
Fol de riddle, lol de riddle, hi ding do!

How many days has my baby to play?
Saturday, Sunday, Monday,
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday,
Saturday, Sunday, Monday.



Ride a cock-horse to Banbury Cross,
To see an old lady upon a white horse.
Rings on her fingers, and bells on her toes,
She shall have music wherever she goes.

There was a man in our town,
And he was wondrous wise,
He jumped into a bramble bush,
And scratched out both his eyes
But when he saw his eyes were out,
With all his might and main,
He jumped into another bush,
And scratched 'em in again.



Cushy cow, bonny, let down thy milk,
And I will give thee a gown of silk
A gown of silk and a silver tee,
If thou wilt let down thy milk to me.



About the bush, Willie,
About the beehive,
About the bush, Willie,
I'll meet thee alive.

Is John Smith within?
Yes, that he is.
Can he set a shoe?
Ay, marry, two.
Here a nail, there a nail,
Tick, tack, too.

Simple Simon met a pieman,
Going to the fair
Says Simple Simon to the pieman,
"Let me taste your ware."

Says the pieman to Simple Simon,
"Show me first your penny,"
Says Simple Simon to the pieman,
"Indeed, I have not any."

Simple Simon went a-fishing
For to catch a whale
All the water he could find
Was in his mother's pail!

Simple Simon went to look
If plums grew on a thistle
He pricked his fingers very much,
Which made poor Simon whistle.

He went to catch a dicky bird,
And thought he could not fail,
Because he had a little salt,
To put upon its tail.

He went for water with a sieve,
But soon it ran all through
And now poor Simple Simon
Bids you all adieu.

This little pig went to market
This little pig stayed at home
This little pig had roast beef
This little pig had none
This little pig said, "Wee, wee!
I can't find my way home."



Three blind mice! See how they run!
They all ran after the farmer's wife,
Who cut off their tails with a carving knife.
Did you ever see such a thing in your life
As three blind mice?


There was a little man, and he had a little gun,
And his bullets were made of lead, lead, lead
He went to the brook, and saw a little duck,
And shot it right through the head, head, head.

He carried it home to his old wife Joan,
And bade her a fire to make, make, make.
To roast the little duck he had shot in the brook,
And he'd go and fetch the drake, drake, drake.

The drake was a-swimming with his curly tail
The little man made it his mark, mark, mark.
He let off his gun, but he fired too soon,
And the drake flew away with a quack, quack, quack.


Doctor Foster went to Glo'ster,
In a shower of rain
He stepped in a puddle, up to his middle,
And never went there again.


As the days grow longer
The storms grow stronger.


Hickety, pickety, my black hen,
She lays eggs for gentlemen
Gentlemen come every day
To see what my black hen doth lay.


Little Nanny Etticoat
In a white petticoat,
And a red nose
The longer she stands
The shorter she grows.

Curly-locks, Curly-locks, wilt thou be mine?
Thou shalt not wash the dishes, nor yet feed the swine
But sit on a cushion, and sew a fine seam
And feed upon strawberries, sugar, and cream.



Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall
All the King's horses, and all the King's men
Cannot put Humpty Dumpty together again.

See a pin and pick it up,
All the day you'll have good luck.
See a pin and let it lay,
Bad luck you'll have all the day.


"Old woman, old woman, shall we go a-shearing?"
"Speak a little louder, sir, I am very thick of hearing."
"Old woman, old woman, shall I kiss you dearly?"
"Thank you, kind sir, I hear you very clearly."


Goosey, goosey, gander,
Whither dost thou wander?
Upstairs and downstairs
And in my lady's chamber.

There I met an old man
Who wouldn't say his prayers
I took him by the left leg,
And threw him down the stairs.

"Cock, cock, cock, cock,
I've laid an egg,
Am I to gang ba--are-foot?"

"Hen, hen, hen, hen,
I've been up and down
To every shop in town,
And cannot find a shoe
To fit your foot,
If I'd crow my hea--art out."


I had a little boy,
And called him Blue Bell
Gave him a little work,--
He did it very well.

I bade him go upstairs
To bring me a gold pin
In coal scuttle fell he,
Up to his little chin.

He went to the garden
To pick a little sage
He tumbled on his nose,
And fell into a rage.

He went to the cellar
To draw a little beer
And quickly did return
To say there was none there.

Old Mother Hubbard
Went to the cupboard,
To give her poor dog a bone
But when she got there
The cupboard was bare,
And so the poor dog had none.

She went to the baker's
To buy him some bread
When she came back
The dog was dead.

She went to the undertaker's
To buy him a coffin
When she got back
The dog was laughing.

She took a clean dish
To get him some tripe
When she came back
He was smoking a pipe.

She went to the alehouse
To get him some beer
When she came back
The dog sat in a chair.

She went to the tavern
For white wine and red
When she came back
The dog stood on his head.

She went to the hatter's
To buy him a hat
When she came back
He was feeding the cat.

She went to the barber's
To buy him a wig
When she came back
He was dancing a jig.

She went to the fruiterer's
To buy him some fruit
When she came back
He was playing the flute.

She went to the tailor's
To buy him a coat
When she came back
He was riding a goat.

She went to the cobbler's
To buy him some shoes
When she came back
He was reading the news.

She went to the sempster's
To buy him some linen
When she came back
The dog was a-spinning.

She went to the hosier's
To buy him some hose
When she came back
He was dressed in his clothes.

The dame made a curtsy,
The dog made a bow
The dame said, "Your servant,"
The dog said, "Bow-wow."

Johnny shall have a new bonnet,
And Johnny shall go to the fair,
And Johnny shall have a blue ribbon
To tie up his bonny brown hair.

And why may not I love Johnny?
And why may not Johnny love me?
And why may not I love Johnny
As well as another body?

And here's a leg for a stocking,
And here's a foot for a shoe,
And he has a kiss for his daddy,
And two for his mammy, I trow.

And why may not I love Johnny?
And why may not Johnny love me?
And why may not I love Johnny
As well as another body?


Little Jack Jelf
Was put on the shelf
Because he could not spell "pie"
When his aunt, Mrs. Grace,
Saw his sorrowful face,
She could not help saying, "Oh, fie!"

And since Master Jelf
Was put on the shelf
Because he could not spell "pie,"
Let him stand there so grim,
And no more about him,
For I wish him a very good-bye!


Jack Sprat
Could eat no fat,
His wife could eat no lean
And so,
Betwixt them both,
They licked the platter clean.


The girl in the lane, that couldn't speak plain,
Cried, "Gobble, gobble, gobble":
The man on the hill that couldn't stand still,
Went hobble hobble, hobble.

Hush-a-bye, baby, lie still with thy daddy,
Thy mammy has gone to the mill,
To get some meal to bake a cake,
So pray, my dear baby, lie still.


Nancy Dawson was so fine
She wouldn't get up to serve the swine
She lies in bed till eight or nine,
So it's Oh, poor Nancy Dawson.

And do ye ken Nancy Dawson, honey?
The wife who sells the barley, honey?
She won't get up to feed her swine,
And do ye ken Nancy Dawson, honey?

Handy Pandy, Jack-a-dandy,
Loves plum cake and sugar candy.
He bought some at a grocer's shop,
And out he came, hop, hop, hop!


Jack and Jill went up the hill,
To fetch a pail of water
Jack fell down, and broke his crown,
And Jill came tumbling after.

Then up Jack got and off did trot,
As fast as he could caper,
To old Dame Dob, who patched his nob
With vinegar and brown paper.


A, B, C, and D,
Pray, playmates, agree.
E, F, and G,
Well, so it shall be.
J, K, and L,
In peace we will dwell.
M, N, and O,
To play let us go.
P, Q, R, and S,
Love may we possess.
W, X, and Y,
Will not quarrel or die.
Z, and ampersand,
Go to school at command.


One misty moisty morning,
When cloudy was the weather,
I chanced to meet an old man,
Clothed all in leather.
He began to compliment
And I began to grin.
How do you do? And how do you do?
And how do you do again?



Robin Hood, Robin Hood,
Is in the mickle wood!
Little John, Little John,
He to the town is gone.

Robin Hood, Robin Hood,
Telling his beads,
All in the greenwood
Among the green weeds.

Little John, Little John,
If he comes no more,
Robin Hood, Robin Hood,
We shall fret full sore!


There came an old woman from France
Who taught grown-up children to dance
But they were so stiff,
She sent them home in a sniff,
This sprightly old woman from France.

There was an old man
In a velvet coat,
He kissed a maid
And gave her a groat.
The groat it was crack'd
And would not go,--
Ah, old man, do you serve me so?




Hey, my kitten, my kitten,
And hey, my kitten, my deary!
Such a sweet pet as this
Was neither far nor neary.


Great A, little a,
This is pancake day
Toss the ball high,
Throw the ball low,
Those that come after
May sing heigh-ho!


Here sits the Lord Mayor,
Here sit his two men,
Here sits the cock,
Here sits the hen,
Here sit the little chickens,
Here they run in.
Chin-chopper, chin-chopper, chin chopper, chin!



Hey diddle dinkety poppety pet,
The merchants of London they wear scarlet,
Silk in the collar and gold in the hem,
So merrily march the merchant men.


How many miles is it to Babylon?--
Threescore miles and ten.
Can I get there by candle-light?--
Yes, and back again.
If your heels are nimble and light,
You may get there by candle-light.

I'll tell you a story
About Jack-a-Nory:
And now my story's begun.
I'll tell you another
About his brother:
And now my story is done.


There was an old woman, and what do you think?
She lived upon nothing but victuals and drink
Victuals and drink were the chief of her diet,
And yet this old woman could never be quiet.


When little Fred went to bed,
He always said his prayers

He kissed mamma, and then papa,
And straightway went upstairs.


Baa, baa, black sheep,
Have you any wool?
Yes, marry, have I,
Three bags full

One for my master,
One for my dame,
But none for the little boy
Who cries in the lane.


Hickery, dickery, 6 and 7,
Alabone, Crackabone, 10 and 11,
Spin, spun, muskidun,
Twiddle 'em, twaddle 'em, 21.


"Jacky, come and give me thy fiddle,
If ever thou mean to thrive."
"Nay, I'll not give my fiddle
To any man alive.

"If I should give my fiddle,
They'll think that I've gone mad
For many a joyous day
My fiddle and I have had."

Buttons, a farthing a pair!
Come, who will buy them of me?
They're round and sound and pretty,
And fit for girls of the city.
Come, who will buy them of me?
Buttons, a farthing a pair!


Ladies and gentlemen come to supper--
Hot boiled beans and very good butter.


I like little Pussy,
Her coat is so warm,

And if I don't hurt her
She'll do me no harm

So I'll not pull her tail,
Nor drive her away,

But Pussy and I
Very gently will play.


Sing a song of sixpence,
A pocket full of rye
Four-and-twenty blackbirds
Baked in a pie!

When the pie was opened
The birds began to sing
Was not that a dainty dish
To set before the king?

The king was in his counting-house,
Counting out his money
The queen was in the parlor,
Eating bread and honey.

The maid was in the garden,
Hanging out the clothes
When down came a blackbird
And snapped off her nose.


Here we go round the mulberry bush,
The mulberry bush, the mulberry bush,
Here we go round the mulberry bush.
On a cold and frosty morning.

This is the way we wash our hands,
Wash our hands, wash our hands,
This is the way we wash our hands,
On a cold and frosty morning.

This is the way we wash our clothes.
Wash our clothes, wash our clothes,
This is the way we wash our clothes,
On a cold and frosty morning.

This is the way we go to school,
Go to school, go to school,
This is the way we go to school,
On a cold and frosty morning.

This is the way we come out of school,
Come out of school, come out of school,
This is the way we come out of school,
On a cold and frosty morning.


As I was going to Derby all on a market-day,
I met the finest ram, sir, that ever was fed upon hay
Upon hay, upon hay, upon hay
I met the finest ram, sir, that ever was fed upon hay.
This ram was fat behind, sir this ram was fat before
This ram was ten yards round, sir indeed, he was no more
No more, no more, no more
This ram was ten yards round, sir indeed, he was no more.
The horns that grew on his head, sir, they were so wondrous high,
As I've been plainly told, sir, they reached up to the sky.
The sky, the sky, the sky
As I've been plainly told, sir, they reached up to the sky.
The tail that grew from his back, sir, was six yards and an ell
And it was sent to Derby to toll the market bell
The bell, the bell, the bell
And it was sent to Derby to toll the market bell.


I had a little hobby-horse,
And it was dapple gray
Its head was made of pea-straw,
Its tail was made of hay.

I sold it to an old woman
For a copper groat
And I'll not sing my song again
Without another coat.

If I'd as much money as I could tell,
I never would cry young lambs to sell
Young lambs to sell, young lambs to sell
I never would cry young lambs to sell.



A little cock-sparrow sat on a green tree,
And he chirruped, he chirruped, so merry was he
A naughty boy came with his wee bow and arrow,
Determined to shoot this little cock-sparrow.

"This little cock-sparrow shall make me a stew,
And his giblets shall make me a little pie, too."
"Oh, no," says the sparrow "I won't make a stew."
So he flapped his wings and away he flew.

There was an old woman tossed in a basket,
Seventeen times as high as the moon
But where she was going no mortal could tell,
For under her arm she carried a broom.

"Old woman, old woman, old woman,"said I,
"Whither, oh whither, oh whither so high?"
"To sweep the cobwebs from the sky
And I'll be with you by-and-by."


I had two pigeons bright and gay,
They flew from me the other day.
What was the reason they did go?
I cannot tell, for I do not know.

The fair maid who, the first of May,
Goes to the fields at break of day,
And washes in dew from the hawthorn-tree,
Will ever after handsome be.


On Saturday night
Shall be all my care
To powder my locks
And curl my hair.

On Sunday morning
My love will come in.
When he will marry me
With a gold ring.


This is the house that Jack built.
This is the malt
That lay in the house that Jack built.

This is the rat,
That ate the malt
That lay in the house that Jack built.

This is the cat,
That killed the rat,
That ate the malt
That lay in the house that Jack built.

This is the dog,
That worried the cat,
That killed the rat,
That ate the malt
That lay in the house that Jack built.

This is the cow with the crumpled horn,
That tossed the dog,
That worried the cat,
That killed the rat,
That ate the malt
That lay in the house that Jack built.

This is the maiden all forlorn,
That milked the cow with the crumpled horn,
That tossed the dog,
That worried the cat,
That killed the rat,
That ate the malt
That lay in the house that Jack built

This is the man all tattered and torn,
That kissed the maiden all forlorn,
That milked the cow with the crumpled horn,
That tossed the dog,
That worried the cat,
That killed the rat,
That ate the malt
That lay in the house that Jack built.

This is the priest all shaven and shorn,
That married the man all tattered and torn,
That kissed the maiden all forlorn,
That milked the cow with the crumpled horn,
That tossed the dog,
That worried the cat,
That killed the rat,
That ate the malt
That lay in the house that Jack built.

This is the cock that crowed in the morn,
That waked the priest all shaven and shorn,
That married the man all tattered and torn,
That kissed the maiden all forlorn,
That milked the cow with the crumpled horn,
That tossed the dog,
That worried the cat,
That killed the rat,
That ate the malt
That lay in the house that Jack built.

This is the farmer sowing the corn,
That kept the cock that crowed in the morn,
That waked the priest all shaven and shorn,
That married the man all tattered and torn,
That kissed the maiden all forlorn,
That milked the cow with the crumpled horn,
That tossed the dog,
That worried the cat,
That killed the rat,
That ate the malt
That lay in the house that Jack built.


Little Jenny Wren fell sick,
Upon a time
In came Robin Redbreast
And brought her cake and wine.

"Eat well of my cake, Jenny,
Drink well of my wine."
"Thank you, Robin, kindly,
You shall be mine."

Jenny she got well,
And stood upon her feet,
And told Robin plainly
She loved him not a bit.

Robin being angry,
Hopped upon a twig,
Saying, "Out upon you! Fie upon you!
Bold-faced jig!"

There was an old woman, as I've heard tell,
She went to market her eggs for to sell
She went to market all on a market-day,
And she fell asleep on the King's highway.

There came by a pedlar whose name was Stout,
He cut her petticoats all round about
He cut her petticoats up to the knees,
Which made the old woman to shiver and freeze.

When the little old woman first did wake,
She began to shiver and she began to shake
She began to wonder and she began to cry,
"Lauk a mercy on me, this can't be I!

"But if it be I, as I hope it be,
I've a little dog at home, and he'll know me
If it be I, he'll wag his little tail,
And if it be not I, he'll loudly bark and wail."

Home went the little woman all in the dark
Up got the little dog, and he began to bark
He began to bark, so she began to cry,
"Lauk a mercy on me, this is none of I!"




I had a little moppet,
I put it in my pocket,
And fed it with corn and hay.
There came a proud beggar.
And swore he should have her
And stole my little moppet away.

I saw a ship a-sailing,
A-sailing on the sea
And, oh! it was all laden
With pretty things for thee!

There were comfits in the cabin,
And apples in the hold
The sails were made of silk,
And the masts were made of gold.

The four-and-twenty sailors
That stood between the decks,
Were four-and-twenty white mice
With chains about their necks.

The captain was a duck,
With a packet on his back
And when the ship began to move,
The captain said, "Quack! Quack!"

The Man in the Moon came tumbling down,
And asked the way to Norwich
He went by the south, and burnt his mouth
With eating cold pease porridge.



The hart he loves the high wood,
The hare she loves the hill
The Knight he loves his bright sword,
The Lady--loves her will.



There was a fat man of Bombay,
Who was smoking one sunshiny day
When a bird called a snipe
Flew away with his pipe,
Which vexed the fat man of Bombay


A riddle, a riddle, as I suppose,
A hundred eyes and never a nose!



I love sixpence, a jolly, jolly sixpence,
I love sixpence as my life
I spent a penny of it, I spent a penny of it,
I took a penny home to my wife.

Oh, my little fourpence, a jolly, jolly fourpence,
I love fourpence as my life
I spent twopence of it, I spent twopence of it,
And I took twopence home to my wife.


In a cottage in Fife
Lived a man and his wife
Who, believe me, were comical folk
For, to people's surprise,
They both saw with their eyes,
And their tongues moved whenever they spoke!

When they were asleep,
I'm told, that to keep
Their eyes open they could not contrive
They both walked on their feet,
And 'twas thought what they eat
Helped, with drinking, to keep them alive!



Cocks crow in the morn
To tell us to rise,
And he who lies late
Will never be wise

For early to bed
And early to rise,
Is the way to be healthy
And wealthy and wise.


"Robert Barnes, my fellow fine,
Can you shoe this horse of mine?"
"Yes, good sir, that I can,
As well as any other man
There's a nail, and there's a prod,
Now, good sir, your horse is shod."

The two gray kits,
And the gray kits' mother,
All went over
The bridge together.

The bridge broke down,
They all fell in
"May the rats go with you,"
Says Tom Bolin.


Cock-a-doodle-do!
My dame has lost her shoe,
My master's lost his fiddle-stick
And knows not what to do.

Cock-a-doodle-do!
What is my dame to do?
Till master finds his fiddle-stick,
She'll dance without her shoe.

At the siege of Belleisle
I was there all the while,
All the while, all the while,
At the siege of Belleisle.




The cock's on the housetop blowing his horn
The bull's in the barn a-threshing of corn
The maids in the meadows are making of hay
The ducks in the river are swimming away.


As I walked by myself,
And talked to myself,
Myself said unto me:
"Look to thyself,
Take care of thyself,
For nobody cares for thee."

I answered myself,
And said to myself
In the selfsame repartee:
"Look to thyself,
Or not look to thyself,
The selfsame thing will be."


To make your candles last for aye,
You wives and maids give ear-O!
To put them out's the only way,
Says honest John Boldero.


There were once two cats of Kilkenny.
Each thought there was one cat too many
So they fought and they fit,
And they scratched and they bit,
Till, excepting their nails,
And the tips of their tails,
Instead of two cats, there weren't any.



Ladybird, ladybird, fly away home!
Your house is on fire, your children all gone,
All but one, and her name is Ann,
And she crept under the pudding pan.

There was a man and he had naught,
And robbers came to rob him
He crept up to the chimney pot,
And then they thought they had him.

But he got down on t'other side,
And then they could not find him
He ran fourteen miles in fifteen days,
And never looked behind him.


Bow-wow-wow!
Whose dog art thou?
Little Tom Tinker's dog,
Bow-wow-wow!


"Billy, Billy, come and play,
While the sun shines bright as day."

"Yes, my Polly, so I will,
For I love to please you still."

"Billy, Billy, have you seen
Sam and Betsy on the green?"

"Yes, my Poll, I saw them pass,
Skipping o'er the new-mown grass."

"Billy, Billy, come along,
And I will sing a pretty song."

The man in the wilderness
Asked me
How many strawberries
Grew in the sea.
I answered him
As I thought good,
As many as red herrings
Grew in the wood.



Bessy Bell and Mary Gray,
They were two bonny lasses
They built their house upon the lea,
And covered it with rushes.

Bessy kept the garden gate,
And Mary kept the pantry
Bessy always had to wait,
While Mary lived in plenty.


Dance, Thumbkin, dance
(keep the thumb in motion
Dance, ye merrymen, everyone.
(all the fingers in motion
For Thumbkin, he can dance alone,
(the thumb alone moving
Thumbkin, he can dance alone.
(the thumb alone moving
Dance, Foreman, dance,
(the first finger moving
Dance, ye merrymen, everyone.
(all moving
But Foreman, he can dance alone,
(the first finger moving
Foreman, he can dance alone.
(the first finger moving
Dance, Longman, dance,
(the second finger moving
Dance, ye merrymen, everyone.
(all moving
For Longman, he can dance alone,
(the second finger moving
Longman, he can dance alone.
(the second finger moving
Dance, Ringman, dance,
(the third finger moving
Dance, ye merrymen, dance.
(all moving
But Ringman cannot dance alone,
(the third finger moving
Ringman, he cannot dance alone.
(the third finger moving
Dance, Littleman, dance,
(the fourth finger moving
Dance, ye merrymen, dance.
(all moving
But Littleman, he can dance alone,
(the fourth finger moving
Littleman, he can dance alone.
(the fourth finger moving


Mary had a pretty bird,
Feathers bright and yellow,
Slender legs--upon my word
He was a pretty fellow!

The sweetest note he always sung,
Which much delighted Mary.
She often, where the cage was hung,
Sat hearing her canary.

Once I saw a little bird
Come hop, hop, hop
So I cried, "Little bird,
Will you stop, stop, stop?"

And was going to the window
To say, "How do you do?"
But he shook his little tail,
And far away he flew.



The greedy man is he who sits
And bites bits out of plates,
Or else takes up an almanac
And gobbles all the dates.


A diller, 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.


Over the water,
And under the water,
And always with its head down.

Willy, Willy Wilkin
Kissed the maids a-milking,
Fa, la, la!
And with his merry daffing
He set them all a-laughing,
Ha, ha, ha!



A little boy went into a barn,
And lay down on some hay.
An owl came out, and flew about,
And the little boy ran away.


Little Jack Jingle, He used to live single
But when he got tired of this kind of life,
He left off being single and lived with his wife.
Now what do you think of little Jack Jingle?
Before he was married he used to live single.


My little old man and I fell out
I'll tell you what 'twas all about,--
I had money and he had none,
And that's the way the noise begun.


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.


Little Betty Blue
Lost her holiday shoe
What shall little Betty do?
Give her another
To match the other
And then she'll walk upon two.

There was an old woman sat spinning,
And that's the first beginning

She had a calf,
And that's half

She took it by the tail,
And threw it over the wall,
And that's all!



For want of a nail, the shoe was lost
For want of the shoe, the horse was lost
For want of the horse, the rider was lost
For want of the rider, the battle was lost
For want of the battle, the kingdom was lost,
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.


Pease porridge hot,
Pease porridge cold,
Pease porridge in the pot,
Nine days old.
Some like it hot,
Some like it cold,
Some like it in the pot,
Nine days old.


There was a crooked man, and he went a crooked mile,
He found a crooked sixpence beside a crooked stile
He bought a crooked cat, which caught a crooked mouse,
And they all lived together in a little crooked house.

This is the way the ladies ride,
Tri, tre, tre, tree,
Tri, tre, tre, tree!
This is the way the ladies ride,
Tri, tre, tre, tre, tri-tre-tre-tree!

This is the way the gentlemen ride,
Gallop-a-trot,
Gallop-a-trot!
This is the way the gentlemen ride,
Gallop-a-gallop-a-trot!

This is the way the farmers ride,
Hobbledy-hoy,
Hobbledy-hoy!
This is the way the farmers ride,
Hobbledy-hobbledy-hoy!


If all the world were apple pie,
And all the sea were ink,
And all the trees were bread and cheese,
What should we have for drink?


The King of France went up the hill,
With twenty thousand men
The King of France came down the hill,
And ne'er went up again.



The Queen of Hearts,
She made some tarts,
All on a summer's day
The Knave of Hearts,
He stole the tarts,
And took them clean away.

The King of Hearts
Called for the tarts,
And beat the Knave full sore
The Knave of Hearts
Brought back the tarts,
And vowed he'd steal no more.



What are little boys made of, made of?
What are little boys made of?
"Snaps and snails, and puppy-dogs' tails
And that's what little boys are made of."

What are little girls made of, made of?
What are little girls made of?
"Sugar and spice, and all that's nice
And that's what little girls are made of."

"Little maid, pretty maid, whither goest thou?"
"Down in the forest to milk my cow."
"Shall I go with thee?" "No, not now
When I send for thee, then come thou."




When I was a little girl, about seven years old,
I hadn't got a petticoat, to cover me from the cold.
So I went into Darlington, that pretty little town,
And there I bought a petticoat, a cloak, and a gown.
I went into the woods and built me a kirk,
And all the birds of the air, they helped me to work.
The hawk with his long claws pulled down the stone,
The dove with her rough bill brought me them home.
The parrot was the clergyman, the peacock was the clerk,
The bullfinch played the organ,--we made merry work.



Little Tom Tucker
Sings for his supper.
What shall he eat?
White bread and butter.
How will he cut it
Without e'er a knife?
How will he be married
Without e'er a wife?

"Where are you going, my pretty maid?"
"I'm going a-milking, sir," she said.
"May I go with you, my pretty maid?"
"You're kindly welcome, sir," she said.
"What is your father, my pretty maid?"
"My father's a farmer, sir," she said.
"What is your fortune, my pretty maid?"
"My face is my fortune, sir," she said.
"Then I can't marry you, my pretty maid."
"Nobody asked you, sir," she said.



There was an old woman of Gloucester,
Whose parrot two guineas it cost her,
But its tongue never ceasing,
Was vastly displeasing
To the talkative woman of Gloucester.


Taffy was a Welshman, Taffy was a thief,
Taffy came to my house and stole a piece of beef
I went to Taffy's house, Taffy was not home
Taffy came to my house and stole a marrow-bone.

I went to Taffy's house, Taffy was not in
Taffy came to my house and stole a silver pin
I went to Taffy's house, Taffy was in bed,
I took up the marrow-bone and flung it at his head.

Young Roger came tapping at Dolly's window,
Thumpaty, thumpaty, thump!

He asked for admittance she answered him "No!"
Frumpaty, frumpaty, frump!

"No, no, Roger, no! as you came you may go!"
Stumpaty, stumpaty, stump!



The north wind doth blow,
And we shall have snow,
And what will poor robin do then,
Poor thing?

He'll sit in a barn,
And keep himself warm,
And hide his head under his wing,
Poor thing!


There was an old woman of Harrow,
Who visited in a wheelbarrow
And her servant before,
Knocked loud at each door,
To announce the old woman of Harrow.

There was a piper had a cow,
And he had naught to give her
He pulled out his pipes and played her a tune,
And bade the cow consider.

The cow considered very well,
And gave the piper a penny,
And bade him play the other tune,
"Corn rigs are bonny."


A little old man of Derby,
How do you think he served me?
He took away my bread and cheese,
And that is how he served me.


There was an old woman who lived in a shoe.
She had so many children she didn't know what to do.
She gave them some broth without any bread.
She whipped them all soundly and put them to bed.


Ding, dong, bell,
Pussy's in the well!
Who put her in?
Little Tommy Lin.

Who pulled her out?
Little Johnny Stout.
What a naughty boy was that,
To try to drown poor pussy-cat.
Who never did him any harm,
But killed the mice in his father's barn!


There was a little boy and a little girl
Lived in an alley
Says the little boy to the little girl,
"Shall I, oh, shall I?"
Says the little girl to the little boy,
"What shall we do?"
Says the little boy to the little girl,
"I will kiss you."


When I was a bachelor
I lived by myself
And all the bread and cheese I got
I laid up on the shelf.

The rats and the mice
They made such a strife,
I was forced to go to London
To buy me a wife.

The streets were so bad,
And the lanes were so narrow,
I was forced to bring my wife home
In a wheelbarrow.

The wheelbarrow broke,
And my wife had a fall
Down came wheelbarrow,
Little wife and all.




Hot-cross Buns!
Hot-cross Buns!
One a penny, two a penny,
Hot-cross Buns!

Hot-cross Buns!
Hot-cross Buns!
If ye have no daughters,
Give them to your sons.

London Bridge is broken down,
Dance over my Lady Lee
London Bridge is broken down,
With a gay lady.

How shall we build it up again?
Dance over my Lady Lee
How shall we build it up again?
With a gay lady.

Build it up with silver and gold,
Dance over my Lady Lee
Build it up with silver and gold,
With a gay lady.

Silver and gold will be stole away,
Dance over my Lady Lee
Silver and gold will be stole away,
With a gay lady.

Build it up with iron and steel,
Dance over my Lady Lee
Build it up with iron and steel,
With a gay lady.

Iron and steel will bend and bow,
Dance over my Lady Lee
Iron and steel will bend and bow,
With a gay lady.

Build it up with wood and clay,
Dance over my Lady Lee
Build it up with wood and clay,
With a gay lady.

Wood and clay will wash away,
Dance over my Lady Lee
Wood and clay will wash away,
With a gay lady.

Build it up with stone so strong,
Dance over my Lady Lee
Huzza! 'twill last for ages long,
With a gay lady.



There was a little woman, as I've been told,
Who was not very young, nor yet very old
Now this little woman her living got
By selling codlins, hot, hot, hot!




There was an old man of Tobago
Who lived on rice, gruel, and sago,
Till much to his bliss,
His physician said this:
"To a leg, sir, of mutton, you may go."


A farmer went trotting upon his gray mare,
Bumpety, bumpety, bump!
With his daughter behind him so rosy and fair,
Lumpety, lumpety, lump!

A raven cried croak! and they all tumbled down,
Bumpety, bumpety, bump!
The mare broke her knees, and the farmer his crown,
Lumpety, lumpety, lump!

The mischievous raven flew laughing away,
Bumpety, bumpety, bump!
And vowed he would serve them the same the next day,
Lumpety, lumpety lump!

Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat,
Please to put a penny in an old man's hat
If you haven't got a penny a ha'penny will do,
If you haven't got a ha'penny, God bless you.




Polly, put the kettle on,
Polly, put the kettle on,
Polly, put the kettle on,
And let's drink tea.

Sukey, take it off again,
Sukey, take it off again,
Sukey, take it off again,
They're all gone away.


Who killed Cock Robin?
"I," said the sparrow,
"With my little bow and arrow,
I killed Cock Robin."

Who saw him die?
"I," said the fly,
"With my little eye,
I saw him die."

Who caught his blood?
"I," said the fish,
"With my little dish,
I caught his blood."

Who'll make his shroud?
"I," said the beetle,
"With my thread and needle.
I'll make his shroud."

Who'll carry the torch?
"I," said the linnet,
"I'll come in a minute,
I'll carry the torch."

Who'll be the clerk?
"I," said the lark,
"If it's not in the dark,
I'll be the clerk."

Who'll dig his grave?
"I," said the owl,
"With my spade and trowel
I'll dig his grave."

Who'll be the parson?
"I," said the rook,
"With my little book,
I'll be the parson."

Who'll be chief mourner?
"I," said the dove,
"I mourn for my love,
I'll be chief mourner."

Who'll sing a psalm?
"I," said the thrush,
"As I sit in a bush.
I'll sing a psalm."

Who'll carry the coffin?
"I," said the kite,
"If it's not in the night,
I'll carry the coffin."

Who'll toll the bell?
"I," said the bull,
"Because I can pull,
I'll toll the bell."

All the birds of the air
Fell sighing and sobbing,
When they heard the bell toll
For poor Cock Robin.


Bobby Shaftoe's gone to sea,
With silver buckles on his knee:
He'll come back and marry me,
Pretty Bobby Shaftoe!
Bobby Shaftoe's fat and fair,
Combing down his yellow hair
He's my love for evermore,
Pretty Bobby Shaftoe.


Oh, dear, what can the matter be?
Oh, dear, what can the matter be?
Oh, dear, what can the matter be?
Johnny's so long at the fair.

He promised he'd buy me a bunch of blue ribbons,
He promised he'd buy me a bunch of blue ribbons,
He promised he'd buy me a bunch of blue ribbons,
To tie up my bonny brown hair.


The little robin grieves
When the snow is on the ground,
For the trees have no leaves,
And no berries can be found.

The air is cold, the worms are hid
For robin here what can be done?
Let's strow around some crumbs of bread,
And then he'll live till snow is gone.


Mother Goose

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Mother Goose, fictitious old woman, reputedly the source of the body of traditional children’s songs and verses known as nursery rhymes. She is often pictured as a beak-nosed, sharp-chinned elderly woman riding on the back of a flying gander. “Mother Goose” was first associated with nursery rhymes in an early collection of “the most celebrated Songs and Lullabies of old British nurses,” Mother Goose’s Melody or Sonnets for the Cradle (1781), published by the successors of one of the first publishers of children’s books, John Newbery. The oldest extant copy dates from 1791, but it is thought that an edition appeared, or was planned, as early as 1765, and it is likely that it was edited by Oliver Goldsmith, who may also have composed some of the verses. The Newbery firm seems to have derived the name “Mother Goose” from the title of Charles Perrault’s fairy tales, Contes de ma mère l’oye (1697 “Tales of Mother Goose”), a French folk expression roughly equivalent to “old wives’ tales.”


History 101: will the real mother goose please stand up

Everyone is familiar with Mother Goose and her nursery rhymes. However, beyond Humpty Dumpty, little is known about this woman. Was she even a real person? If so, who was she?

Let’s start at the beginning. In the late 1690s, a book was published in France entitled Contes de ma mère l’Oye (Tales of my Mother Goose). It wasn’t until 1729 that an English translation was printed, first in London and then in America in the late 1780s. Finally, in 1791, John Newbery (yes, that Newbery) published a collection of tales entitled Mother Goose’s Melody and she’s be a household name ever since.

Surprisingly enough, there are only two theories as to Mother Goose’s real identity. The first is Bertrada of Laon, an ancient queen (and mother of Charlemagne) who had the unfortunate nickname Goose-Foot Bertha.

The second – and far more widely accepted – theory is that the real Mother Goose was a Bostonian named Elizabeth Foster Goose. When she was 27 (in 1692), she married the widowed Issac Goose and brought to the marriage her six children to his 10. With sixteen children – and later, numerous grandchildren – Elizabeth kept everyone entertained by telling stories and singing songs. One of the couple’s daughters married a printer and in the early 1700s he published a collection of Mother Goose’s rhymes. There’s a gravestone in Boston that has become something of a tourist attraction, but whether or not Mrs. Goose was the real Mother Goose is still unknown.

I’ve mentioned these books once before (in a rather short-lived feature that I’m hoping to revive someday!). Jasper Fforde – if you aren’t reading him, you should probably fix that – has a series called Nursery Crimes and they’re wonderful. If you’re familiar with Fforde, you already know what to expect. If you’re new to him, well..expect a lot or quirk. He’s a little out there, but once you get used to his writing, you won’t be able to put him down.

The Nursery Crimes series takes a beloved classic and turns it on his head. The Gingerbreadman is actually a psychopathic killer. Humpty Dumpty has hit rock bottom – literally (spoiler?) – as well as the bottom of the bottle. Inspector Jack Spratt, head of the Nursery Crimes Division, and his partner Mary Mary tackle odd and ridiculous cases in these books and it’s awesome. There’s a third book coming out (not until 2014 UGH!) and I can’t wait!


Who, or What, Was Mother Goose?

Mother Goose was sometimes illustrated as an old country woman wearing a tall hat and riding on the back of a goose. Or sometimes as just a big, motherly goose wearing reading glasses and a bonnet, a friendly figure children could trust.

Support for BirdNote comes from Seattle’s Portage Bay Café & catering. Serving local, organic food as part of their commitment to the environment. Info at portagebaycafé.com.

Who, or What, Was Mother Goose?

Mother Goose sounds old fashioned, so let’s bring her story up to date. Everyone knows Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. They’re Disney stories, right? Not exactly: three centuries before they helped make Disney famous, they were among the original Mother Goose tales. And hundreds of classic nursery rhymes, like Three Blind Mice and Humpty Dumpty, were also first gathered under Mother Goose’s wing.

Such stories and rhymes were long part of Europe’s oral folklore. The stories were first published in France, in 1697, as Tales of My Mother Goose. The book appeared in English soon after.

Just who, or what, was Mother Goose? The name originates in an old French euphemism: stories told by elder women were called “tales told by Mother Goose.”

Mother Goose was sometimes illustrated as an old country woman wearing a tall hat and riding on the back of a goose. Or sometimes as just a big, motherly goose wearing reading glasses and a bonnet, a friendly figure children could trust.

There’s something timeless about big feathery friends for children, even today.

For BirdNote, I’m Michael Stein.

Support for BirdNote comes from Seattle’s Portage Bay Café & catering. Serving local, organic food as part of their commitment to the environment. Info at portagebaycafé.com.


Ravel's Mother Goose SuiteDelicate Childhood Stories

The Ravel Mother Goose suite (Ma Mere l'Oye) is a charmingly delicate and imaginative little suite of fairytale pieces.

At first a four-hand piano suite, Maurice Ravel's orchestral ballet version made it well-known and popular.

Although it's whimsical, the music also has a hint of sadness throughout, which I think hints at Ravel's attachment to childhood.

I really like the cozy feeling of the suite. It's full of the warmth of childhood fantasies, and of course has Ravel's twin signatures of a luxurious sound and elegance.

Ravel first wrote the Mother Goose Suite in 1908 for two children whose parents he was friends with, in a four-hand suite for solo piano.

The children, Mimi and Jean Godebski, were extremely fond of him since he told them fairytales, some of which he made up on the spot!

The Movements

The original five movements of the suite each illustrate fairytales, most of them written by French authors.

  1. Sleeping Beauty's Pavane (Slow). This movement describes a procession of mourning for Sleeping Beauty. In the original piano version it was quite a simple piece, but in the orchestral version Ravel uses this simplicity to create a very delicate and moving scene.
  2. Little Tom Thumb (Moderate speed). A rather sad little story, in which Tom Thumb leaves a trail of breadcrumbs to find his way back through the forest. But the birds eat the crumbs, leaving Tom lost. Ravel's music has a limping and ungainly rhythm, imitating Tom Thumb wandering around in circles in the forest.
  3. Laideronnette ("Little Ugly Girl"), Empress of the Pagodas (March). This is my favorite movement. Inspired by the Orient, this piece describes how little statues on pagodas come to life and play music as their Empress enters the water to bathe. The music is dazzling and glorious, full of oriental harmonies and exciting colors.
  4. The conversations of Beauty and the Beast (Waltz). A charming little waltz, full of the nostalgia of awkward love. Beauty sees through the Beast's horrible appearance to his kindness and courage, and eventually he transforms into a handsome prince.
  5. The Fairy Garden (Slowly and solemnly). A poetically magical happy ending, but still with a slight tinge of sadness. The orchestral version is much more powerful, since Ravel finally turns to the string section, and gives them the main sweeping and flowering melody.

Three years later arranged it for orchestra, and then in 1912 he went even further and transformed it into a ballet.

Ravel fleshed out the music for the ballet version, adding in a prelude, a final section, swapping the movements around a bit, and putting in little interludes to connect everything.

Since Ravel's sense of sound was so fine and precise, the orchestral versions don't sound like boring rehashes of the piano music.

To me they're like re-imaginations of the piano music, inspired by original but with a magical flourish of orchestral color.

Ravel's orchestration of the Mother Goose suite actually more depth to the pieces.

For instance in the "Beauty and the Beast" movement we get an idea of Beauty's perfect princess character through the low flute and floating strings.

In the ballet version, there's one musical theme which ties the whole work together. It's taken from the very end of the piano version - but Ravel starts the ballet version with it:

After this "once-upon-a-time" theme starts off the ballet, we gradually hear distant horn sounds and other orchestral images.

Each time the little motif appears between the separate movements, it's like we're hearing Ravel say to the children "which story would you like to hear?". This is a great touch!

In the finale, this little theme returns triumphantly to celebrate the storyteller's art and the happy ending of this musical storybook.

Ravel's music here is, like usual, injected with a lushness and refinement which makes it sound slightly jazz-like.

Fittingly, the orchestrated version has no heavy brass intruments (bye bye tubas and trombones!), to keep the music sounding light and imaginative.

But Ravel sort of makes up for the brass instruments, and gives his sound pallete a story-like twinkle by including a small army of percussion instruments, including my favorites the gong and the glockenspiel.

Because the suite is so full and rich, I strongly recommend you learn the basics of getting good sound reproduction with a home stereo system before listening.

Good Recordings

I can recommend two recordings of the Ravel Mother Goose Suite.

The first is by Pierre Boulez conducting the Berliner Philharmoniker on the Deutsche Grammophon label. This is a wonderful performance which does everything the right way.

The orchestra sounds rich and atmospheric, with no annoying distortions which often affect Ravel's very precise music.

The other recording, which I think brings out the childlike mood of the suite fantastically, is by Stanislaw Skrowaczdwski conducting the Minnesota Orchestra.

Here are two awesome videos of the entire original four-hand piano suite. The playing here is wonderful!

I'll end with my favorite movement (Laideronette), and finale of the Ravel Mother Goose suite itself, the magnificent Fairy Garden.

We're lucky to have this great video of a beautifully colorful interpretation of BOTH of these pieces on the one video. You can't see the orchestra actually performing, but this is hands down the best-performed version I've found online.

Listen to the exotic and tinkling images in Laideronette, and try not to be too moved by Ravel's expression of the lost innocence of childhood in The Fairy Garden (which starts at around 4:52 in the video).

Here's a free recording of the suite you can download, by the Columbia University Orchestra. Be warned though, it's not the complete ballet suite, and the playing is relatively amateur-sounding in my opinion!

You might also like Ravel's beautiful musical memorial Le Tombeau de Couperin.

List of site sources >>>


Watch the video: Who was the Real Mother Goose? (December 2021).