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Showing posts from April, 2012

A - Z Blogging Challenge: Z is for...THE END!!'s finally arrived! It's the last day of the April 2012 'A to Z Blogging Challenge' and of course that means the letter 'Z'.  As I couldn't find a nursery rhyme for the letter 'Z' I have decided to cheat a little bit and I'm going to close my challenge with a great, feel-good song. The song does feature 'Z' and I think it's the perfect way to end this thoroughly enjoyable challenge. I would just like to thank everyone for dropping by and for your comments and kind words. I would also like to thank Arlee Bird for organising the challenge and also to thank all the co-hosts for their support. You can check out their blogs by clicking here and looking for the 'A to Z Team for 2012' list in the right hand side-bar. So, that's it and I will now hand you over to the great Mr Louis Armstrong to sum up how I feel about reaching this last day. Please feel free to join in!

A-Z Blogging Challenge: Y Is for...Young Roger

Well, it's the penultimate letter in the April A to Z Challenge and I cannot believe how quickly this month has flown past. As far as nursery rhymes go, the last few letters of the alphabet have certainly been the most challenging, especially U, V, X, Y and Z. Not only are the nursery rhymes beginning with those letters few and far between but there doesn't seem to be much history available for the ones that do exist. The little rhyme that follows is no exception but I love it and it made me laugh so I had to include it. It may be perfectly innocent but - and this may just be my mind - I can't help feeling that there is a double meaning here. Back in the 15th and 16th centuries it was common practice to replace lines in songs which were too bawdy or crude to be sung in public, with lines such as 'hey nonny nonny' or 'fal da riddle' etc. I leave you to make up your own minds on this one. YOUNG ROGER AND DOLLY  Young Roger came tapping at

A-Z Blogging Challenge: X is for...10

Well, I have to say that 'X' was a difficult one and I'm very surprised that I managed to come up with anything at all but here it is. X shall stand for playmates ten,  V for five stout, stalwart men. I for one, as I'm alive, C for a hundred and... D for five (hundred). M for a thousand soldiers true,  Now al l these figures I've told to you. This little nursery rhyme was used to teach children about Roman Numerals and I must admit, I have now learned it as I think it's really useful but unfortunately I can find no reference as to when it was first published or to any of the history behind it. It's a sweet little rhyme anyway.

A - Z Blogging Challenge: W is for...Wee Willie Winkie

William Miller Wee Willie Winkie runs through the town,  Upstairs and downstairs in his nightgown. Tapping at the window, crying at the lock, Are the children in their beds for it's past ten o'clock? Many people are under the impression that Rudyard Kipling was the author of this little rhyme as he wrote a story in 1899, also titled 'Wee Willie Winkie' but this nursery rhyme was actually written in 1841 by Sotsman William Miller (1810-1872). When he had to give up his career in medicine because of ill health, his friends persuaded him to publish the childrens' poems that he had written over the years and because they were so popular he became known as the 'Laureate of the Nursery. 'Wee Willie Winkie' is by far the most famous of all his poems and although most of us only know the first verse (above) it is actually the beginning of a much longer poem. The full poem is written out in its original form below and after that there is a translatio

A - Z Blogging Challenge: V is for...Valentine.

'Roses are red, violets are blue, Sugar is sweet and so are you.' I bet we've all sent or received a Valentine's card at some time in our life with that verse in it - or at least some variation of it. It's a very popular little rhyme, but did you know that its origins have been traced back as far as 1590 to Edmund Spenser's ' The Faerie Queene '? ' She bath'd with roses red and violets blew  And all the sweetest flowres, that in the forest grew .' (All the spelling is correct in case you're wondering.) Later on, in 1784, a similar rhyme appeared in ' Gammer Gurton's Garland ', a collection of English nursery rhymes. Valentine's Card circa 1800 The rose is red, the violet's blue,  The honey's sweet and so are you. Thou art my love and I am thine; I drew thee to my Valentine: The lot was cast and then I drew, And Fortune said it should be you. I almost cried when I read it. It's so beauti

A-Z Blogging Challenge: U is for...Up.

Despite searching and searching I could not find any history behind any of the nursery rhymes beginning with U. In fact, up until yesterday I couldn't even find a nursery rhyme beginning with U but it's amazing what you can come up with if you persist. So today I am just going to give you the two rhymes that I have found. If anyone knows any of the history behind either/both of them I would be very interested to hear it. Up at Piccadilly, oh!   The coachman takes his stand, And when he meets a pretty girl he takes her by the hand. Whip away forever, oh! Drive away so clever, oh! All the way to Bristol, oh He drives her 4 in hand. This little rhyme was first found in The Nursery Rhyme Book (1897) edited by Andrew Lang and illustrated by L. Leslie Brooke. It can also be found in The Real Mother Goose (edition 1916) along with an illustration by Blanche Fisher Wright. Clearly this is about a coachman picking up a fare (the pretty gi

A-Z Blogging Challenge: T is for...Tommy Tucker.

Tommy Tucker  from Kate Greenaway's Mother Goose 1881 Little Tommy Tucker  Sings for his supper. What shall we give him? White bread and butter. How shall he eat it  Without e'er a knife? How will he marry Without e'er a wife? This nursery rhyme was first published in 1829. Around that time 'Tommy Tucker' was the colloquial name for an orphan so this rhyme is about how the orphans sang for their supper. Orphans, who were considered the lowest of the low, had to beg for their food on the streets and that is what is meant by 'singing for his supper'. White bread and butter sounds fine but, the fact that he didn't have a knife to cut it up shows that orphans owned nothing and because of their low status within the community, it was unlikely that an orphan would ever marry. Poor little Tommy Tucker.

A-Z Blogging Challenge: S is for...Sixpence

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, Oh wasn't 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 parlour eating bread and honey. The maid was in the garden hanging out the clothes, When down came a blackbird and pecked off her nose! There isn't much historical background to this rhyme other than in the early 17th Century cooks/chefs would bake pies then fill them with live songbirds. When the pie was cut open the birds would fly out much to the amusement of the dinner guests. The servants would then bring in the 'proper' pie for everyone to eat. Back in those days the 'commoners' believed that all a King did was count his money and all a Queen did was eat bread and honey - a great delicacy of the time. As for the maid? All I can think is that a blackbird - still angry from bei

A-Z of Blogging: R is for...Ring a Ring o' Roses

Kate Greenaway's  Mother Goose illustration of children playing the game   Ring-a-ring-o'-roses,  A pocket full of posies. Atishoo! Atishoo! We all fall down. Although this nursery rhyme didn't appear in print until 1881, it was being sung almost a hundred years before that to a similar tune to the one that we sing today. For years many people believed that this rhyme was associated with the Great Plague of 1665 and some believed it to go even further back, to the time of the Black Death. The reasons for this were as follows: Ring-a-ring-o'-roses - one of the first signs of plague was a rosy, red circular rash on the skin. A pocket full of posies - sachets of flower petals and sweet smelling herbs were carried around so that people could hold them to their noses to cover up the smell of the disease. Atishoo, atishoo - sneezing was one of the final symptoms of the plague before death occurred. We all fall down - that's exactly what happened. Th

A-Z Blogging Challenge: Q is for...the Queen of Hearts

The Queen of Hearts  She made some tarts, All on a summer's day; The Knave of Hearts He stole those 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. No-one knows who wrote this wonderful nursery rhyme although it is known that it was around before 1785. It originally had three other verses  but as this verse gained popularity the others were more or less forgotten about.  The whole poem was based on the four suits in a pack of playing cards and each verse described the domestic arrangements of the suits. It would appear that the Kings of Spades was partial to flirting with the maids and the Queen of Spades lost her temper had them all beaten then sent away however, the Knave appealed to the Queen and she decided to let them all back again.  The King and Queen of Clubs were constantly fighting and the Knave refused to tak

Don't Get Mad - Get Even!!

I found this whilst reading a post on a great home-working blog How to Work From Home  and I just couldn't resist sharing it with you. This guy, Dave Carroll, is a Canadian musician and when careless baggage handlers from United Airlines broke his guitar and the company refused to take responsibility he decided to write and  record this song and post it on YouTube. It's had over 4 million hits and United have now paid for the repairs!! The moral of this story? Don't get mad - get even!

A-Z Blogging Challenge: P is for...Pussycat

Courtesy of Grandma's Nursery Rhymes "Pussycat pussycat, where have you been?"   "I've been up to London to visit the Queen" "Pussycat pussycat, what did you there?" "I frightened a little mouse under her chair." Although this nursery rhyme was first published in 1805, it is believed that it dates back to 16th century Tudor England and the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. It is said that one of the Queen's Ladies in Waiting had an old cat and this cat was allowed to roam around Windsor castle. One day it ran underneath the Queen's throne and its tail brushed against her foot which gave her a bit of a fright. Luckily, 'Good Queen Bess' found this amusing and decided that the cat would be allowed to roam freely around the throne room as long as it kept the room free of mice. I love this nursery rhyme and I love this story.

A-Z of Blogging: O is for...Old Chairs

Ok so firstly I need to give you the answer to yesterday's riddle. Old Mother Granya was...a needle! A huge well done to Iris and Susan who both got it right. You are much cleverer than I am. Before I knew the answer I went through so many things that she could have been and finally decided that she was a one eyed fox! So, on to today's nursery rhyme: 'Old chairs to mend Old chairs to mend; If I'd as much money As I could spend, I never would cry "Old chairs to mend" This rhyme is based on the street cry of the chair bottomers who were seen around town and city streets of England during the 17th and 18th centuries. Chair bottomers hawked their services through the streets carrying all the materials that were needed to mend the backs and bottoms of chairs. These included cord, rope, rushes and chair canes amongst other things. People would bring out any chairs which needed fixing and the bottomers would mend the chairs in the middle of the street

A-Z Blogging Challenge: N is for...?

Can you believe it? I cannot find a single nursery rhyme beginning with the letter 'N'. I can find children's poems and stories but not a nursery rhyme and so, today, I've decided to give you something different. A riddle! The only clue I'm giving you is that the solution to the riddle begins with the letter 'N'. 'Old Mother Granya hath but one eye And a long tail which she does let fly; And every time she doth jump through a gap She leaveth a part of her tail in a trap.' Can you guess who or what Old Mother Granya is? Please leave your answers in the comment section below and all will be revealed tomorrow.

A-Z Blogging Challenge: M is for...Mary.

'Mary, Mary, quite contrary,  How does your garden grow? With silver bells and cockle shells, And pretty maids all in a row.' Mary, Queen of Scots Once again, there are two very different interpretations of the meaning of this nursery rhyme. The first states that Mary was Mary, Queen of Scots (1542-1587). 'How does your garden grow?' is referring to her reign over the realm. The 'silver bells' are a reference to the sanctus bells and Mary's Catholicism, 'cockle shells' implies that her husband had been unfaithful and the 'pretty maids all in a row' are her ladies in waiting - The Four Maries. The second interpretation is much more gruesome. Bloody Mary Tudor This time Mary is alleged to be Mary Tudor (1516-1558) or Bloody Mary, daughter of King Henry VIII.  Queen Mary was a staunch Catholic and spent much of her time ordering the execution of those who followed the Protestant faith. The 'garden'

A-Z Blogging Challenge: L is for...Little Miss Muffet

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.' There are two different stories behind this nursery rhyme. The first is that Little Miss Muffet was actually Patience Muffet, the stepdaughter of the famous 16th century entomologist, Dr Muffet (1553-1604). He compiled the first catalogue of British insects and it is said that he wrote this rhyme when one morning, whilst Patience was eating her breakfast of curds and whey, a large spider which had escaped from his collection came running towards her and she was so terrified that she ran away screaming. The second story claims that this rhyme refers to Mary, Queen of Scots (1543-1587).  She was Miss Muffet in the rhyme and the spider was in fact religious reformer John Knox whom Mary was frightened of. So, I leave it up to you to decide which one is closer to the truth. Personally, I like the first one.

A-Z Blogging Challenge: K is for...Kittens!

I have searched and searched but cannot come up with a nursery rhyme featuring 'K' which has a history behind it but to no avail so I will just share one of my favourite rhymes with you today. THREE LITTLE KITTENS   The three little kittens, they lost their mittens, And they began to cry, "Oh, mother dear, we sadly fear, That we have lost our mittens." "What!   Lost your mittens, you naughty kittens! Then you shall have no pie." "Meow, meow, meow." "Then you shall have no pie." The three little kittens, they found their mittens, And they began to cry, "Oh, mother dear, see here, see here, For we have found our mittens." "Put on your mittens, you silly kittens, And you shall have some pie." "Purr, purr, purr, Oh, let us have some pie." The three little kittens put on their mittens, And soon ate up the pie, "Oh, mother dear, we greatly fear, That we have s

A-Z Blogging Challenge: J is for...Jack Sprat

'Jack Sprat could eat no fat His wife could eat no lean And so betwixt the two of them They licked the platter clean.' The nursery rhyme was first published in 1639 during the reign of Charles I (1625-1649). It is believed that 'Jack' was actually Charles I. When King Charles declared war on Spain in 1623 he asked the government to fund the war but they refused (he had no 'fat') and so, in a fit of anger, he dissolved parliament. His wife, Henrietta Maria, then imposed an illegal war tax (found plenty of fat) to fund the war and so, between them, they effectively 'cleaned up'. Jack Sprat and his Wife, from Mother Goose, The Original Volland Edition  (1915)

A-Z Blogging Challenge: I is for...I Had a Little Nut Tree

The Little Nut Tree 'I had a little nut tree    Nothing would it bear But a silver nutmeg And a golden pear The King of Spain's daughter Came to visit me And all for the sake Of my little nut tree. Her dress was made of crimson Golden was her hair She asked me for my nut tree And my golden pear I said "So fair a princess Never did I see I'll give you all the fruit  from my little nut tree." The story surrounding the rhyme is quite vague but it is believed that the 'King of Spain's daughter' was Catherine of Aragon, youngest daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella. The words are believed to be those of Prince Arthur; King Henry VII's eldest son and heir. When Catherine was three years old she was betrothed to Prince Arthur, son of Henry VII. Arthur was just two at the time. When she was almost 16 (in 1501) she travelled to England and on the 14th November, Catherine and Arthur were married but sadly, only six months after the

A-Z Blogging Challenge: H is for...Humpty

'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.' There have been many theories about the history of the nursery rhyme Humpty Dumpty. In 15th century England, 'humpty dumpty' was the colloquial term for an obese person. Humpty Dumpty was always portrayed as an egg sitting on a wall and it is believed that this is because it was written as a riddle and children had to guess what he was from the words of the rhyme. It was widely thought for many, many years that Humpty Dumpty was King Richard III who has been depicted throughout history as having a 'hunched' or 'hump' back. He was defeated at Bosworth Field in 1485 despite having an enormous army behind him but no further evidence can be found to prove this link and so it has now been discounted. Here is a slightly older version: The now restored St. Mary's by the Wall, Colches

A-Z Blogging Challenge: G is for...Georgie Porgie

George Villiers - The Face of an Angel 'Georgie Porgie pudding and pie  Kissed the girls and made them cry When the boys came out to play, Georgie Porgie ran away.' Georgie Porgie was actually George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham (1592-1628). Villiers was a lover of King James I and was described by him as having 'the face of and angel' but his good looks also appealed to the ladies of the time. George Villiers' most notable affair was with Anne of Austria who was married to Louis XIII at the time and was therefore the Queen of France. This affair could have been disastrous but, because of his relationship with King James, the affair was overlooked. Because he got away with so much he was unpopular with both commoners and courtiers and eventually, when his personal and political scheming began to get out of hand, parliament stepped in and stopped the king from intervening further. Reference to the romance between George Villiers and the Queen of Fran

A-Z Blogging Challenge: F is for...Farmer.

Despite hours of searching I was unable to find a nursery rhyme beginning with F that had any history attached to it and so I have decided to share one of my all time favourite rhymes (which does feature F for farmer) with you and give you a brief history of the raven; a bird mentioned in the nursery rhyme. What a bad raven! It's hardly surprising though that the mare got the fright of her life. Ravens are considered to be prophets of doom; symbols of the supernatural. When a raven 'croaks' it is believed to represent the speech of the dead. Personally I wouldn't have left the house the next day. I wonder if the farmer decided to stay at home too. Ravens are very much associated with the Tower of London. Click here to find out about the history behind this strange connection.

A-Z Blogging Challenge: E is for...Elsie Marley

This is a rhyme that I hadn't heard until I started this challenge although some people I have spoken to have been surprised that I hadn't heard it so I'm learning stuff from this too. 'Elsie Marley's grown so fine. She won't get up to feed the swine, But lies in bed 'til eight or nine! And surely does she take her time.' This little rhyme seems innocent enough. Elsie is obviously a lady who has, for what ever reason, got ideas above her station. She has become so fine that she won't get out of bed before 8 or 9am and refuses to feed the pigs. When she does get up she certainly doesn't rush to do anything. The rhyme has been changed with good reason. Her name was actually Eppie Marly. Here is the original. Bonnie Prince Charlie 'Saw ye Eppie Marly, honey, The woman that sells the barley, honey? She's lost her pocket and a' her money, Wi followin' Jacobite Charlie, honey. Eppie Marly's turned sae fine, She&

A-Z Blogging Challenge: D is for Doctor Foster

I thought today we would have something a bit more light-hearted. 'Doctor Foster  Went to Gloucester In a shower of rain. He stepped in a puddle Right up to his middle And never went there again' The origins of this rhyme are reputedly found in the 13th century although the rhyme was probably made up much later. King Edward I (1239-1307), whose nickname was 'Longshanks' because he was over 6ft tall, had gone on a visit to Gloucester. Whilst he was there he allegedly fell from his horse and landed in a deep, muddy puddle. He was so  embarrassed by what had happened that he vowed he would never visit Gloucester ever again! Clearly they couldn't make up a rhyme about King Edward I falling from his horse as that could have been construed as mild treason so the name Doctor Foster was made up to rhyme with Gloucester. The rhyme also acts as a warning. Be careful when stepping into puddles. They may look shallow enough but they could in fact be a lot de

A-Z Blogging Challenge: C is for Crooked

For anyone who doesn't know the rhyme CROOKED in this instance is pronounced KROOK-ID as opposed to KROOKT There was a crooked man 'There was a crooked man and he walked a crooked mile, He found a crooked sixpence upon a crooked stile. He bought a crooked cat, which caught a crooked mouse and they all lived together in a little crooked house.' I always loved this nursery rhyme as a child. I had a beautiful nursery rhyme book and it had a gorgeous drawing of the crooked man with his crooked cat and crooked house etc. I used to imagine what it might be like to live in such a house but, yet again, all is not as innocent as it seems. It is believed that this rhyme has its origins back in the reign of Charles I. The crooked man is reputed to be Scotland's General Sir Alexander Leslie, 1st Earl of Leven who was one of the Covenanters who signed the Covenant in 1638 securing religious and political freedom for Scotland. The crooked stile represents the border

A-Z Blogging Challenge: B is for 'Baa Baa Black Sheep'

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.' Although this rhyme was first published in 1744 it is believed to have been around for much longer. In fact, it is thought that it was written in the Middle Ages during the reign of King Edward II (1307 - 1327). This seemingly innocent children's nursery rhyme about a black sheep yielding three bags of wool actually has political undertones like many of the nursery rhymes from that era. During the Middle Ages the wool industry in England was huge and wool was a very valuable commodity. England produced the best wool in Europe and peasants were required to pay their taxes in the form of sacks of wool. They gave a third to the King (the master), a third to the nobility (the dame) and they were allowed to keep the final third for themselves (the little boy who lived down the lane)

A-Z Blogging Challenge: A is for 'An Apple A Day'

An Apple a Day So here goes with the first post of the A-Z Blogging Challenge. For those of you who are not sure what my theme is you can find out by clicking here . We're all used to hearing the saying 'An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away' but did you know that it is actually taken from an old nursery rhyme? No-one knows for certain when it was first written but the first printed version of it has been traced back to 1866 although it is believed that it originated  long before that. It is also believed that the poem was written to encourage children to eat healthily. AN APPLE A DAY 'An apple a day keeps the doctor away Apple in the morning - Doctor's warning Roast apple at night - Starves the doctor outright Eat an apple going to bed - Knock the doctor on the head Three each day, seven days a week - Ruddy apple, ruddy cheek.' So you see - our 5 a day is really nothing new. Even two hundred years ago they were encouraging children to eat at l