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Some Nursery Rhymes and Their Unexpected Meanings


You can find out more about LOTS of these at this awesome Nursery Rhyme history and meaning website. You can also learn all about the mysterious character, Mother Goose, (she was a witch!)

Here are some of my favorites:

In the olden days, children went to work not school! This meant they had to play at night-time!!! Here's a nursery rhyme describing that unfortunate situation:



Boys and girls come out to play,
The moon does shine as bright as day;
Come with a hoop, and come with a call,
Come with a good will or not at all.
Loose your supper, and loose your sleep,
Come to your playfellows in the street;
Up the ladder and down the wall.
A halfpenny loaf will serve us all.
But when the loaf is gone, what will you do?
Those who would eat must work - 'tis true.

More about this rhyme

Eppie Marley
Eppie Marly

Saw you Eppie Marly, honey,
The woman that sells the barley, honey?
She's lost her pocket and all her money,
Following Jacobite Charlie, honey.

Eppie Marly's turned so fine,
She'll not go out to herd the swine,
But lies in her bed till eight or nine,
And won't come down the stairs to dine
.

One Misty, Moisty Morning



One misty, moisty, morning,
When cloudy was the weather,
There I met an old man
All clothed in leather

All clothed in leather,
With a cap under his chin.
How do you do?
And how do you do?
And how do you do again?

Hector Protector by Maurice Sendak
Hector Protector

Hector Protector was dressed all in green;
Hector Protector was sent to the Queen.
The Queen did not like him,
Nor more did the King;
So Hector Protector was sent back again.


I do not like thee, Doctor Fell,
The reason why I cannot tell;
But this I know, and know full well,
I do not like thee, Doctor Fell.


Taffy Was a Welshman
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 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 threw it at his head

Old Chairs to Mend
Old Chairs to Mend

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"


The man in the moon came tumbling down
And asked his way to Norwich;
He went by the south and burnt his mouth
With supping cold pease porridge.

The Man in the Wilderness
The Man in the Wilderness

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.

There Was an Old Woman Tossed Up in a Basket

There was an old woman
Tossed up in a basket
Seventeen times as high as the moon.
Where she was going
I just had to ask it,
For in her hand she carried a broom.

"Old woman, old woman,
Old woman," said I,
"Please tell me, please tell me,
Why you're up so high?"
"I'm sweeping the cobwebs
Down from the sky,
And I'll be with you
By and by."

When Good King Arthur Ruled This Land
When Good King Arthur Ruled This Land

When good King Arthur ruled this land,
He was a goodly king;
He stole three pecks of barley-meal
To make a bag-pudding.

A bag-pudding the king did make,
And stuffed it well with plums;
And in it put great lumps of fat,
As big as my two thumbs.

The King and Queen did eat thereof,
And noblemen beside;
And what they could not eat that night,
The Queen next morning fried.


For Want of a Nail
 For Want of a Nail

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


The Grand old Duke of York he had ten thousand men
He marched them up to the top of the hill
And he marched them down again.
When they were up, they were up
And when they were down, they were down
And when they were only halfway up
They were neither up nor down.
 

Hark, Hark, the Dogs Do Bark
Doctor Foster

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!


Hark hark the dogs do bark
The beggars are coming to town
Some in rags and some in jags
And one in a velvet gown.


Old King Cole
More interesting Nursery Rhyme info:

The History of Humpty Dumpty

All About Old King Cole

What on Earth is a Hot Cross Bun

The Real Three Blind Mice

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