Secret History of the Nursery Rhyme Origins of nursery rhymes are sometimes associated with actual events in history. Some secret meanings of nursery rhymes have been lost with time. Rhymes were used by the locals to gossip about politics and royals. Rhymes were used innocently to spread rebellious messages.
The Rhyme Was an Element of Free Speech A rhyme was comprised of a rhyming couplet or short verse. It is often short and easy to remember. Commoners used rhymes to comment on events. Criticism would often have been punishable by death.
The Rhyme that led to Revolution Wording of a rhyme could be associated with historical events. The first English rhyme dates back to the fourteenth century. This rhyme was passed from one person to another and was easily remembered.
The Chapbooks Nursery rhymes began printing in England in Books and cheap pamphlets (or Chapbooks) were printed. A chapbook is a pamphlet containing such things as poems, stories, or religious tracts. Chapbooks contained pictures and were entertaining to those who were learning to read.
Mary Mary Quite Contrary Mary Mary quite contrary, How does your garden grow? With silver bells and cockle shells And pretty maids all in a row.
Mary Mary Quite Contrary o Mary Queen of Scots Protestants could not speak against the Queen without reprimand so they spoke in code. o The garden in the rhyme is filled with the graves of protestant opponents of the Queen. o Instruments of torture such as thumbscrews and iron masks were referred to as silver bells and cockle shells. o Instruments like the guillotine were known as “maids” to behead enemies.
Baa Baa Black Sheep Baa baa black sheep, have you any wool? Yes sir, yes sir, three bags full! One for the master, one for the dame, And one for the little boy who lives down the lane.
Baa Baa Black Sheep o The wool industry was important to Britain's economy from the Middle Ages until the nineteenth century. o Referring to King Edward I and the export tax imposed in Britain in English Customs Statute authorized the king to collect tax on all exports of wool in every port in the country. o Another reference could be to King Edward II. He encouraged weavers and cloth dyers to improve the quality of English products.
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star Twinkle twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are? Up above the world so high, like a diamond in the sky When the blazing sun is gone, when he nothing shines upon, Then you show your little light, twinkle, twinkle all the night. Then the traveler in the dark, thanks you for your tiny spark, He could not see which way to go, if you did not twinkle so. In the dark blue sky you keep, and often through my curtains peep, For you never shut your eye, 'till the sun is in the sky. As your bright and tiny spark lights the traveler in the dark, Though I know not what you are - twinkle, twinkle little star.
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star o Simile 'like a diamond in the sky' Teaches children how words can be used to paint a picture in the imagination. The words create a comparison between the twinkling of the star to a sparkling diamond. Provides a perfect illustration of clever imagery.
Old King Cole Old King Cole was a merry old soul, and a merry old soul was he; He called for his pipe in the middle of the night And he called for his fiddlers three. Every fiddler had a fine fiddle, and a very fine fiddle had he; Oh there's none so rare as can compare With King Cole and his fiddlers three.
Old King Cole o There is confusion regarding the origin of Old King Cole because there were three possible Kings of Britain, all had the name Coel (translates to Cole). Coel Godhebog (Cole the Magnificent - b.220 Decurion of Rome) was the Lord of Colchester (the word Colchester means "Cole's Castle"). Coel Hen (Coel the Old c c.420 ) called Coel the Old due to his longevity, was the Lord of Colchester and a Decurion. St. Ceneu ap Coel (Born c382 ) was the son of Coel Hen. Ceneu appears to have been made a Saint because he upheld the old Christian ways against pagan invaders.
Humpty Dumpty 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!
Humpty Dumpty o Humpty Dumpty was believed to be a large cannon. It was used during the English Civil War in the Siege of Colchester. o In 1648 the town of Colchester was protected by a city wall. A huge cannon, called Humpty Dumpty, was placed on the wall next to St Mary's Church. o A shot from a Parliamentary cannon damaged the wall beneath Humpty Dumpty and caused the cannon to tumble to the ground. The Royalists 'all the King's men' attempted to raise Humpty Dumpty on to another part of the wall. Because the cannon, or Humpty Dumpty, was so heavy 'All the King's horses and all the King's men couldn't put Humpty together again!'
A Wise Old Owl A wise old owl lived in an oak The more he saw the less he spoke The less he spoke the more he heard. Why can't we all be like that wise old bird?
A Wise Old Owl o Told to children in an attempt to teach the child the virtue of being quiet. o The lyrics were based on an owl's behavior of watching and waiting when hunting its prey. o The owl is associated with wisdom in Greek mythology being linked with Athena, the Goddess of Wisdom. o A wise old owl "Children should be seen and not heard!"
Mary had a Little Lamb Mary had a little lamb its fleece was white as snow; And everywhere that Mary went, the lamb was sure to go. It followed her to school one day, which was against the rule; It made the children laugh and play, to see a lamb at school. And so the teacher turned it out, but still it lingered near, And waited patiently about till Mary did appear. "Why does the lamb love Mary so?" the eager children cry; "Why, Mary loves the lamb, you know" the teacher did reply.
Mary had a Little Lamb o Introduces imagery of similes. White as snow. o No historical connection can be traced. It can be confirmed that the song is American as the words were written by Sarah Hale, of Boston, in o The words were the first ever recorded by Thomas Edison, on tin foil, on his phonograph.
Hickory, Dickory Dock Hickory dickory dock The mouse ran up the clock The clock struck one The mouse ran down Hickory dickory dock
Hickory, Dickory Dock o Uses alliteration where children mimic the sound of a clock chiming. o Intended to introduce children to the fundamentals of telling time. o The Origins of Hickory Hickory is derived from the North American Indian word 'pawcohiccora' which is an oily milk-like liquor that is pressed from pounded hickory nuts. o The Origins of Dock Dock is a species of plant which has the Latin name of Rumex crispus.
Three Blind Mice Three blind mice, three blind mice, See how they run, 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?
Three Blind Mice o The 'farmer's wife' refers to the daughter of King Henry VIII, Queen Mary I. Mary was a devoted Catholic and her violent persecution of Protestants led to the nickname of 'Bloody Mary'. The 'farmer's wife' in Three Blind Mice refers to the massive estates which she and her husband possessed. o The 'three blind mice' were three noblemen who adhered to the Protestant faith and were convicted of plotting against the Queen. She did not have them dismembered and blinded as referred to in Three Blind Mice but she did have them burnt at the stake!
Little Miss Muffet Little Miss Muffet sat on a tuffet Eating her curds and whey, Along came a spider, Who sat down beside her And frightened Miss Muffet away
Little Miss Muffet o Little Miss Muffet was a girl whose name was Patience Muffet. o Her stepfather, Dr. Muffet was an entomologist who wrote the first scientific book of British Insects. Entomologist is a zoologist who focused on insects. o While eating her breakfast of curds and whey Patience Muffet was frightened by one of his spiders and ran away.
Works Cited Alchin, L.K. Nursery Rhymes Lyrics and Origins. Rhymes.org.uk. 16 November Web. 26 April 2011.