Nursery Rhymes

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This book unravels the truth behind some of the most popular nursery rhymes.

Transcript of Nursery Rhymes

  • Educational reasons for the poem "Baa, baa black sheep"poem

    The reason to the words and history to this song were to associate wool and wool products with the animal that produces it, not to mention the sound that a sheep would make!

    The first grasp of language for a child or baby is to imitate the sounds or noises that animals make - onomatopoeia (words sound like their meaning

    e.g. baa baa in "Baa, baa black sheep"). In some of the earlier versions of "Baa, baa black sheep" the title is actually given as "Ba, ba black sheep" - it is difficult to spell sounds!

    The wool industry was critical to the country's economy from the Middle Ages until the nineteenth century so it is therefore not surprising that it is celebrated in the Baa Baa Black SheepThe wool industry was critical to the country's economy from the Middle Ages until the nineteenth century so it is therefore not surprising that it is celebrated in the Baa Baa Black Sheep

    Nursery Rhyme. An historical connection for this rhyme has been suggested - a political satire said to refer to the

    Plantagenet King Edward I (the Master) and the the export tax imposed in Britain in 1275 in which the English Customs Statute authorised the

    king to collect a tax on all exports of wool in every port in the country.

    But our further research indicates another possible connection of this Nursery rhyme to English history relating to King Edward II (1307-1327). The best wool

    in Europe was produced in England but the cloth workers from Flanders, Bruges and Lille were better skilled in the complex finishing in Europe was produced in England but the cloth workers from Flanders, Bruges and Lille were better skilled in the complex finishing

    trades such as dying and fulling (cleansing, shrinking, and thickening the cloth). King Edward II encouraged Flemmish weavers and cloth dyers to improve the quality

    of the final English products.

    BAA BAA BLACK SHEEP

  • Traditional Interpretation

    The traditional interpretation of this rhyme regards it as an account of the religious upheaval in England during the sixteenth century.

    The ladys chamber is the private room of a high born lady. The lady in this rhyme, apparently had a Priest Hole in her room to hide a Catholic Priest. A Priest Hole

    is a very small hidden room. Priest holes were necessary at this time because those found harboring a priest were executed along with the priest.

    The old man who wouldnt say his prayers refers to the fact that Catholic Priests said their prayers in Latin instead

    of the using correct language for prayers which according to Protestants was in English. Those who did not convert to the Protestant way were executed.of the using correct language for prayers which according to Protestants was in English. Those who did not convert to the Protestant way were executed.

    A Specific Event Recorded in the Rhyme

    Katherine Elwes Thomas in her book The Many Personages of Mother Goose (1930) proposed a specific incident as the source for the rhyme.

    The old man who wouldnt say his prayers was Cardinal Beaton. Beaton did not follow the reformed doctrine of the Convenanters who

    insisted that prayers be said in English and not

    Latin.Cardinal Beaton was thrown down the stairs. Once he reached the bottom, he was stabbed to death. His body was then hung from the walls of his castle.

    GOOSEY GOOSEY GANDER

  • Hey Diddle, Diddle was originally published in 1765, as High Diddle, Diddle and reflects the popular use of nonsense phrases in songs and rhymes. Shakespeare

    himself used the word diddle in his writing. And the phrase hey diddle, diddle is considered similar to a colloquialism

    found in many traditional English folk ballads: hey nonny no.'

    The cat and the fiddle

    The cat is believed to represent Queen Elizabeth I who was nicknamed The Cat because of the way she played or fiddled with her

    cabinet members, much like a cat will play with mice. An interesting quote by Elizabeth I states, I may not be a lion, but I am a lions cub,

    and I have a lions heart. Perhaps the nickname, given behind her back, was not unknown to Elizabethand I have a lions heart. Perhaps the nickname, given behind her back, was not unknown to Elizabeth

    The cow jumped over the moon, / The little dog laughed to see such fun

    The little dog was reportedly Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leicester. Some believe Elizabeth loved Robert others feel that they were simply very close friends

    It is said that Elizabeth once referred to him as her lap dog. It is suggested that the cow and the moon are also nicknames for

    members of Elizabethan court intrigue

    Court intrigue was a huge part of life in the Elizabethan era much as political intrigue is part of our world today

    There was very strict protocol regarding the behavior of members of court towards each other and towards the Queen and it is not surprising thatThere was very strict protocol regarding the behavior of members of court towards each other and towards the Queen and it is not surprising that

    nicknames would have been given to the various players

    And the dish ran away with the spoon

    It is said that Elizabeths serving lady represents the dish and the spoon was the designation of the royal taster. These two servants fell in love and secretly

    eloped and ran away from the court. When they were captured, Elizabeth had them thrown into the Tower of London.

    HEY DIDDLE, DIDDLE

  • HUMPTY DUMPTY

    Humpty Dumpty was a colloquial term used in 15th century England to describe someone who was fat or obese - giving rise to lots of theories pertaining to the

    identity of Humpty Dumpty. However, in this case the question should be not Who was Humpty Dumpty but What was Humpty Dumpty?

    Humpty Dumpty was in fact an unusually large canon which was mounted

    on the protective wall of "St. Mary's Wall Church" in Colchester, England. It was intended to protect the Parliamentarian stronghold

    of Colchester which was in the temporarily in control of the Royalists during the period of English history, described as the

    English Civil War ( 1642 - 1649). A shot from a Parliamentary canon succeeded in damaging the wall underneath Humpty Dumpty English Civil War ( 1642 - 1649). A shot from a Parliamentary canon succeeded in damaging the wall underneath Humpty Dumpty

    causing the canon to fall to the ground. The Royalists 'all the King's men' attempted to raise Humpty Dumpty on to another part of the wall but even with the

    help of ' all the King's horses' failed in their task and Colchester

  • The exact date of origin is unknown but there was a Square Dance called 'Oranges and Lemons' dating back to 1665, unfortunately there are no known record of the lyrics which accompanied the dance but is likely that the words were similar to that of the nursery rhyme. The words to "Oranges and lemons" have been much loved by

    numerous generations of children. The neighbourhood names relate to some of the many churches of Lon don and the tune that accompanies the lyrics emulates

    the sound of the ringing of the individual church bells.The 'Bells of Old Bailey', or more accurately the tenor bell of St Sepulchre, had been utilised prior to 1783 to time the executions

    but after the gallows had been moved, Newgate prison but after the gallows had been moved, Newgate prison (now the site of the Old Bailey) obtained its own bell. As the words to the poem "Oranges and lemons" indicate the unfortunate victim would await execution on 'Death Row' and would be informed by the Bellman of St. Sepulchre by candle light 'here comes the candle to light you to bed', at midnight outside their cell , the Sunday night prior to their

    imminent fate, by the ringing of the 'Execution Bell' (a large hand bell) and the recitation of the following :

    All you that in the condemned hole do lie, Prepare you for tomorrow you shall die;

    Watch all and pray: the hour is drawing near That you before the Almighty must appear; That you before the Almighty must appear; Examine well yourselves in time repent,

    That you may not to eternal flames be sent. And when St. Sepulchre's Bell in the morning tolls

    The Lord above have mercy on your soul.

    The executions commenced at nine o'clock Monday morning following the first toll of the tenor bell. Who would have thought that "Oranges and lemons" a childrens rhyme could have such a sinister historical connotation?

    ORANGES AND LEMONS

  • The Nursery Rhyme, 'Pop goes the weasel' sounds quite incomprehensible in this day and age! The origins of the rhyme are believed to date back to the 1700's. Pop and Weasel?

    These words are derived from Cockney Rhyming slang which originated in London. Cockneys were a close community and had a suspicion of strangersand a dislike of thePolice (they still do!) Cockneys developed a language of their own based roughly on a rhyming slang - it was difficult

    for strangers to understand as invariably thesecond noun would always be dropped. Apples and Pears ( meaning stairs) would be abbreviated to just 'apples', for instanc to just 'apples', for instance, "watch your step on

    the apples". To "Pop" is the slang word for "Pawn". Weasel is derived from "weasel and stoat" meaning coat. It was traditional for even poor people to own a suit, which they wore as their 'Sunday Best'. When times were hard they would pawn their suit, or coat, on a Monday and claim it back before

    Sunday. Hence the term "Pop goes the Weasel"In and out the Eagle?