Nursery Rhymes: Tales

Some of the nursery rhymes you will read here remain famous today, while others are more obscure. Many rhymes have an article of their own in Wikipedia, so I've linked to those articles when available; you'll see the link next to the first line of the rhyme.

[Notes by LKG]

This story is part of the Nursery Rhymes unit. Story source: The Nursery Rhyme Book edited by Andrew Lang and illustrated by L. Leslie Brooke (1897).

Nursery Rhymes: Tales

THE man in the moon,
Came tumbling down,
And ask'd his way to Norwich;
He went by the south,
And burnt his mouth
With supping cold pease-porridge.

~ ~ ~

(Wikipedia: Babes in the Wood)

   MY dear, do you know,
How a long time ago,
Two poor little children,
Whose names I don't know,
Were stolen away on a fine summer's day,
And left in a wood, as I've heard people say.

And when it was night,
So sad was their plight,
The sun it went down,
And the moon gave no light.
They sobbed and they sighed, and they bitterly cried,
And the poor little things, they lay down and died.

And when they were dead,
The robins so red
Brought strawberry-leaves
And over them spread,
And all the day long
They sung them this song:
"Poor babes in the wood! Poor babes in the wood!
And don't you remember the babes in the wood?"

~ ~ ~

(Wikipedia: There was a Crooked Man)

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

~ ~ ~

(Wikipedia: Simple Simon)

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 had got
Was in his mother's pail!

~ ~ ~

I'LL tell you a story
About Jack a Nory, —
And now my story's begun.
I'll tell you another
About Jack his brother, —
And now my story's done.

~ ~ ~

THERE was a man, and he had nought,
And robbers came to rob him;
He crept up to the chimney-pot,
And then they thought they had him.

There was a man, and he had nought
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.

~ ~ ~

(Wikipedia: The Lion and the Unicorn)

The lion and the unicorn
Were fighting for the crown;
The lion beat the unicorn
All round about the town.

Some gave them white bread,
And some gave them brown;
Some gave them plum-cake,
And sent them out of town.

~ ~ ~

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.

~ ~ ~

TOM, Tom, the piper's son,
Stole a pig, and away he run!
The pig was eat, and Tom was beat,
And Tom went roaring down the street.

~ ~ ~

BRYAN O'LIN, and his wife, and wife's mother,
They all went over a bridge together;
The bridge was broken, and they all fell in,
The deuce go with all! quoth Bryan O'Lin.

~ ~ ~

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 he shot it right through the head, head, head.

He carried it home
To his old wife Joan,
And bid her a fire for to make, make, make;

To roast the little duck
He had shot in the brook,
And he'd go and fetch her the drake, drake, drake.

~ ~ ~

THREE wise men of Gotham
Went to sea in a bowl:
And if the bowl had been stronger,
My song would have been longer.

~ ~ ~

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.

~ ~ ~

ROBIN the Bobbin, the big-bellied Ben,
He ate more meat than fourscore men:

He ate a cow, he ate a calf,
He ate a butcher and a half;
He ate a church, he ate a steeple,
He ate the priest and all the people!

A cow and a calf,
An ox and a half,
A church and a steeple,
And all the good people,
And yet he complained that his stomach wasn't full.

~ ~ ~

ROBIN and Richard were two pretty men;
They laid in bed till the clock struck ten;
Then up starts Robin and looks at the sky,
"Oh! Brother Richard, the sun's very high:

"The bull's in the barn threshing the corn,
The cock's on the dunghill blowing his horn,
The cat's at the fire frying of fish,
The dog's in the pantry breaking his dish."

~ ~ ~

[About the anti-Semitic theme here, see the notes to Chaucer's Little Hugh.]

OLD Mother Goose, when
She wanted to wander,
Would ride through the air
On a very fine gander.

Mother Goose had a house,
'Twas built in a wood,
Where an owl at the door
For sentinel stood.

This is her son Jack,
A plain-looking lad,
He is not very good,
Nor yet very bad.

She sent him to market,
A live goose he bought,
"Here, Mother," says he,
"It will not go for nought."

Jack's goose and her gander
Grew very fond;
They'd both eat together,
Or swim in one pond.

Jack found one morning,
As I have been told,
His goose had laid him
An egg of pure gold.

Jack rode to his mother
The news for to tell;
She call'd him a good boy,
And said it was well.

Jack sold his gold egg
To a rogue of a Jew,
Who cheated him out of
The half of his due.

Then Jack went a-courting
A lady so gay,
As fair as the lily,
And sweet as the May.

The Jew and the Squire
Came behind his back,
And began to belabour
The sides of poor Jack.

The old Mother Goose
That instant came in,
And turned her son Jack
Into famed Harlequin.

She then with her wand
Touch'd the lady so fine,
And turn'd her at once
Into sweet Columbine.

The gold egg into the sea
Was thrown then,
When Jack jump'd in,
And got the egg back again.

The Jew got the goose,
Which he vow'd he would kill,
Resolving at once
His pockets to fill.

Jack's mother came in,
And caught the goose soon,
And mounting its back,
Flow up to the moon.

~ ~ ~

Old Abram Brown
OLD Abram Brown is dead and gone,
You'll never see him more;
He used to wear a long brown coat,
That button'd down before.

~ ~ ~

MY lady Wind, my lady Wind,
Went round about the house to find
A chink to get her foot in:
She tried the key-hole in the door,
She tried the crevice in the floor,
And drove the chimney soot in.

And then one night when it was dark,
She blew up such a tiny spark,
That all the house was pothered:
From it she raised up such a flame,
As flamed away to Belting Lane,
And White Cross folks were smothered.

And thus when once, my little dears,
A whisper reaches itching ears,
The same will come, you'll find:
Take my advice, restrain the tongue,
Remember what old nurse has sung
Of busy lady Wind.

~ ~ ~

PUNCH and Judy
Fought for a pie;
Punch gave Judy
A sad blow on the eye.

~ ~ ~

(Wikipedia: Taffy was a Welshman)

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 at 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 a poker and flung it at his head.

~ ~ ~

LITTLE Tommy Tittlemouse
Lived in a little house;
He caught fishes
In other men's ditches.

~ ~ ~

(Wikipedia: Little Jack Horner)

LITTLE Jack Horner sat in a corner,
Eating a Christmas pie;
He put in his thumb, and he pulled out a plum,
And said, "What a good boy am I!"

~ ~ ~

(Wikipedia: Solomon Grundy)

Born on a Monday,
Christened on Tuesday,
Married on Wednesday,
Took ill on Thursday,
Worse on Friday,
Died on Saturday,
Buried on Sunday:
This is the end
Of Solomon Grundy.

(1100 words)