Back to index of "words and books and such" pages by Donald Sauter.
My Mother Goose pages:
    Mother Goose favorites - a personal selection.
    Mother Goose differences - a look at how the same rhyme can vary.
    Mother Goose modernized - a look at some rhymes touched up for kids of today. (You are HERE.)
    Mother Goose rarities - appearing for the first time on the world-wide web!
    Mother Goose and the Beatles - not to mention Bob Dylan and miscellaneous popsters.
    Mother Goose in classic literature - Edgar Allan Poe, Washington Irving, Winnie the Pooh, et al.
    Mother Goose glossary - compare your vocabulary with a three-year-old's.
    Mother Goose first lines - a huge index.


The Evolution of Mother Goose

In September 2008 I bought a nice Mother Goose book, short and stout, called Treasury of Mother Goose Rhymes. The copyright date is 1998, making it the most recently produced Mother Goose collection in my library, probably by more than 25 years.

It's a pretty book, square in shape, with a padded green cover and gilt-edged pages. It is published by Publications International, Ltd., but no one is given credit for compiling or editing the collection. That's not unusual. It has 214 rhymes; 215 if you count "Old MacDonald Had A Farm", which I don't since none of my other Mother Goose books have. Every rhyme has a full-color illustration. Most of the illustrations get a separate page, so the book has almost twice as many pages as rhymes. There are about 15 illustrators credited, but there is no identification of artists with illustrations, which disappoints me.

I was not surprised that some of the rhymes were modernized in various ways; I'd have been surprised if they weren't. Even though I'd always take the "original" over a modern reworking, I realize that times change, and there are spots in Mother Goose which must sound like a foreign language to children nowadays. No doubt, many of my favorite rhymes had been "modernized" a few times along the way before acquiring the "Victorian patina" I like so much. See my page of "Mother Goose differences" for a few examples of how different the same Mother Goose rhyme can be.

Some of the changes to the rhymes seen in this book were for modernizing language only. Some were for "PC" reasons or for the sake of improving the story line. A couple were inadvertent errors.

Moreover, there is a surprisingly large proportion of "new" Mother Goose rhymes, meaning ones that have not appeared in any of the other Mother Goose books in my library. A whopping 33 out of the 214 rhymes here are "new".

The "new" rhymes fall into three rough categories. The first includes more-or-less obscure poems from the 1800s and early 1900s. These should jump out at the Mother Goose fan as being longer and more formal - and drearier? - than the typical nursery rhyme. I've tried to track down the poet in each case, but I'd appreciate it if you did not use my findings as authoritative. Information on the web can be so dicey . . .

The second category of new rhymes includes various "old sayings", from obscure to well-known, that have not previously been associated with Mother Goose, as far as I can tell.

The third category includes short rhymes that do seem a bit more Mother Goose-ish, but previously unknown to me - and often with no evidence they existed prior to the publication of this book. To be honest, I don't know what to make of them.

So . . . in the spirit of, what's interesting to me may be of interest to others - owners of this book, Mother Goose fans in general, people who study sociological changes, et al - here's a look at how the Old Lady has gotten on in recent years.


TMGR = Treasury of Mother Goose Rhymes, 1998.

In a rhyme, ordinary black text indicates the classic version. Keep in mind there can be a lot of variation among "classic" versions of the same rhyme.

RED text indicates modifications by TMGR with respect to the classic version. If it's just a word or two, it appears under the corresponding words in the older version. If a whole line has been changed, the modified line appears to the right.

"First inclusion in a Mother Goose collection?" is a rhetorical question. It means I really do believe it's a first, based on the fact it hasn't appeared before in my very extensive collection, and a web search. But one cannot be sure. After all, there are a surprising number of Mother Goose rhymes in my collection which did not appear at all on the web as of mid-2008. (See my "Mother Goose rarities" page.)

"Rhyme original to TMGR?" is almost the opposite situation. Even though a web search turned up no indication that the given rhyme existed prior to the publication of TMGR in 1998, I somehow doubt the Publications International staff whipped up brand new rhymes for the book. That would seem very odd, given the huge pool of Mother Goose rhymes out there to choose from, and considering the effort required to dig up those obscure, old poems. Why go to that trouble if there's someone on board who can churn out new rhymes on demand? Again, I really don't know what to make of this.


Page 10. The Hobbyhorse

    I had a little hobbyhorse
      And it was dapple gray;
    Its head was made of pea-straw,
      Its tail was made of hay.

    I sold it to and old woman
      For a copper groat; 
    And I'll not sing my song again        And I'll gladly sing my song again 
      Without another coat.                  If your horse should whinny. 

What a bold and brazen boy! We can't have that! TMGR changes his defiance into sweet complaisance. But wait! The illustration shows us it's actually a little girl with her hobbyhorse.


Page 13. The Piper and His Cow

    There was a piper had a cow, 
      And he had naught to give her;
    He pulled out his pipes and played her a tune,
      And bade the cow to consider.

    The cow considered very well,
      And gave the piper a penny,                  
                         some money, 
    And bade him to play another tune, 
      "Corn rigs are bonny."                       That she would find quite funny. 

TMGR modernizes some old-fashioned English, and eliminates what I thought was just a funny, old, made-up song title. Turns out it's a real song to a poem of Robert Burns. Not only that, but I found a recording of it by Richard Dyer-Bennett in my record collection. Man, the stuff I don't have around here!


Page 17. There was a little pig, who wasn't very big

Rhyme original to TMGR? References to "great big show", "band", and "banjo" sound post-Mother Goose. A web search (Sep 2008) showed no indication this rhyme existed prior to the publication of TMGR in 1998.


Page 18. Donkey, donkey, old and gray

TMGR changes "ope" to "open".

I've often wondered about "ope". I feel like I've seen it more than a few times in old writings. On the other hand, it's not in the American Heritage Dictionary. Did they send good, old "ope" out to pasture a bit prematurely?


Page 21. Robert Barnes, fellow fine, can you shoe this horse of mine?

TMGR places rhymes in groups, sometimes according to theme, such as I Love You Rhymes or Play Along Rhymes, and sometimes by a more tangential trait, such as color or animal or food rhymes. There is no further commentary, which, if unfortunate, is perfectly normal for Mother Goose collections. Robert Barnes is placed in the animal section, called Old MacDonald's Farm, and so the reader would have no clue the rhyme is for foot play with a baby.


Page 22. A Horse and a Flea

    A horse and a flea and three blind mice
      Sat on the curbstone shooting dice.              Met each other while skating on ice. 
    The horse he slipped and fell on the flea.
      The flea said, "oops, there's a horse on me!"

Don't gamble, kids.

This rhyme forms part of a funny song called, Boom, Boom, Ain't It Great to Be Crazy? First inclusion in a Mother Goose collection?


Page 28. Charlie Warlie

    Charlie Warlie had a cow, 
      Black and white around the brow; 
    Open the gate and let her through, 
      Charlie Warlie's old cow.             Charlie's cow is home again. 

Here's a case where TMGR fleshes out the story nicely.


Page 33. I have seen you, little mouse

TMGR changes "pussy" to "kitty", and deletes the last six lines about the mouse's escapades in the larder.


Page 34. Mary Had a Little Lamb

TMGR gives only the first of five verses. In the 20 appearances of "Mary had a little lamb" in my collection, including recorded versions, only one other is so chintzy as to give just the first verse. Three give all five verses. One gives two and a half. The average length is 3.125 verses. Of the eight that give four verses, it is always the fourth that is omitted. Well, you asked. (You didn't?)


Page 50. The Purple Cow

Poem by Gelett Burgess. This is its second appearance in my Mother Goose collection, and it gets my full endorsement.


Page 57. Calm in June

    Calm weather in June
    Sets corn in tune.

The Dictionary of Proverbs by George Latimer Apperson and Martin Manser gives this citation, "1732, Fuller: 6207". Guess that means it's old. First inclusion in a Mother Goose collection?


Page 68. The Greedy Man

    The greedy man is he who sits
      And bites bits out of plates, 
    Or else takes up an almanac
                     a calendar 
      And gobbles all the dates.

I have no problem with that.


Page 77. Peter White

    Peter White will ne'er go right, 
      And would you know the reason why?
    He follows his nose wherever he goes, 
      And that stands all awry.                  And all that stands awry. 

TMGR bungles the last line, wrecking the joke.


Page 78. The Piper's Son

    Tom, Tom, the piper's son, 
      Stole a pig and away he run!
    The pig was eat, and Tom was beat,      The pig thought it was quite a treat, 
      And Tom ran crying down the street.     To be carried down the street. 

TMGR makes the old classic much more porcine friendly. In case you've ever marveled at how Tom could eat a whole pig, never mind a live one, the Oxford Nursery Rhyme Book gives "the rest of the story": it was a pastry pig.


Page 81. Miss Mackay

    Alas, alas, for Miss Mackay! 
      Her knives and forks have run away.  
    And when the cups and spoons are going, 
      She's sure there is no way of knowing.  

TMGR slips up here; "when" makes more sense. The illustrator worked from the TMGR version; the cup and spoon are already on their way, following right behind the knife and fork.


Page 90. If Wishes Were Horses

TMGR makes the common mistake in modern editions of changing "ifs and ans" to "ifs and ands". "An" used to mean "if" or "and if". An you don't believe me, read some of Howard Pyle's great books.


Page 94. Three Wise Men

    Three wise men of Gotham
      Went to sea in a bowl.
    If the bowl had been stronger, 
      My song had been longer.  
              would be 

TMGR polishes away another bit of that Victorian patina.


Page 104. Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush

TMGR puts this in the Play Along Rhymes section, but gives the first verse only. For serious play, you definitely need some more verses, including, but not limited to: "wash our clothes", "iron our clothes", "scrub the floor", "mend our clothes", "sweep the house", "bake our bread", and "go to church (or school)".


Page 112. Here Sits the Lord Mayor

This is also in the Play Along Rhymes section, but the reader probably wouldn't know that it's a rhyme for touching the parts of a baby's face. Lord Mayor = forehead; two men = eyes; little chickens = teeth; etc. TMGR changes "cockadoodle" or "cock" (right cheek) to "ladies" - which should have been kept singular, in my view. The cock balances the hen (left cheek). It seems that the artist worked from the original rhyme, as the illustration shows all the characters mentioned, including a cock and hen, but no ladies.


Page 116. Girls and boys come out to play

TMGR lops this one off halfway through. Shortening a nursery rhyme is common enough; all editions do lots of that. This is one of my favorites, though, and how can you cut off just before the line, "Come with a whoop, come with a call"???

The illustration for this one is my favorite in the book.

Girls and boys come out to play.


Page 127. Blue Bell Boy

    I had a little dog
      And his name was Blue Bell;
          called  him 
    I gave him some work, 
      He did it very well.

    I bade him go upstairs
      To bring me a gold pin;
    In coal scuttle fell he, 
      Up to his little chin.

    [Third verse omitted.] 

    He went to the cellar
      To draw a little beer; 
    And quickly did return 
      To say there was none there.

Actually, the four versions of this rhyme previously in my collection are equally split between "I had a little dog..." and "I had a little boy..." I think "Blue Bell" fits a dog better and makes the rhyme more fun, reminding me of Old Mother Hubbard's "poor" (but amazing!) dog.

Oh, yeah, don't drink, kids.


Page 128. There was a little girl, who had a little curl

Here TMGR goes the other way, giving all three verses of a rhyme which is often pruned back to just the first. The first verse makes for a good joke ("but when she was bad she was horrid"), but there's a bigger story. In verse 2, the little girl raises a ruckus upstairs standing on her head on her bed. Here's verse 3:

    Her mother heard the noise 
      and thought it was the boys, 
    A-kicking up a rumpus in the attic;              Falling in the dusty attic; 
    But when she climbed the stair,                  She rushed up the flight, 
      and saw Jemima there,                            and saw she was alright, 
    She took her and did whip her most emphatic.     And hugged her most emphatic. 

TMGR eliminates the profiling of little boys, and the corporal punishment.


Page 131. Freddie and the Cherry Tree

I included this rhyme on this page because TMGR includes a funny final verse not in the two versions already in my collection. The other versions stop with the cherry laughing at Freddie's attempts to catch him. TMGR adds the final twist:

    "Never mind," said little Freddie, 
      "I shall have them when its right." 
    But a blackbird whistled boldly, 
      "I shall have them all tonight."

However, a web search shows that last verse not to be original with TMGR. The poem dates back to at least an 1865 edition. The credit for the poem in that book is given as "Aunt Effie's Rhymes".


Page 135. Dirty Jim

TMGR edits out bad kids and poverty from the last verse:

    The idle and bad,                      Though unkempt and messy, 
      Like this little lad,                  Unlike his friend Jessie,
    May love dirty ways, to be sure;       Jim loved dirty ways, to be sure; 
      But good boys are seen,                But neat kids are seen,
    To be decent and clean,                To be decent and clean,
      Although they are ever so poor.        And their smiles are ever so pure.

The poem goes back at least to a book called Little Ann and Other Poems by Jane Taylor and Ann Taylor, 1883. I've seen the poem credited specifically to Jane Taylor, who died in 1824. First inclusion in a Mother Goose collection?


Page 140. My Little Brother

Poem by Mary Lundie Duncan. First inclusion in a Mother Goose collection?


Page 143. I have a little sister, she is only two years old

All I could find out about this one, titled "My Little Sister", is that it can be sung to the tune of "The Yellow Rose of Texas". First inclusion in a Mother Goose collection?


Page 144. Little Jack Jelf was put on a shelf

TMGR changes "Oh, fie!" to "Oh, my!"


Page 147. Little Polly Flinders

    Little Polly Flinders
      Sat among the cinders
    Warming her pretty little toes; 
      Her mother came and caught her, 
    And whipped her little daughter        For fear her lovely daughter 
      For spoiling her nice new clothes.     Would toast her pretty little nose. 

TMGR eliminates another whipping.


Page 148. Patience Is a Virtue

    Patience is a virtue,
      Virtue is a grace, 
    Both put together              Grace is a little girl 
      Make a very pretty face.       Who wouldn't wash her face. 

Here's a flip-flop for me. I would have thought that TMGR came up with the "new", cute ending, but a web search shows that "Grace is a little girl..." is more than twice as common as the "Both put together..." ending.


Page 162. Sweep, sweep, chimney sweep

This is new to my collection but seems to have been around awhile. Richard Deering and/or Orlando Gibbons set a street cry from which this rhyme was taken to music in the 1600s.


Page 166. Lavender Blue

    Lavender blue and Rosemary green, 
      When I am king you shall be queen,
    Call up my maids at four of the clock,
      Some to the wheel and some to the rock, 
    Some to make hay and some to thresh corn, 
      And you and I will keep the bed warm.
                         sing until morn. 

TMGR takes away an opportunity for kids to have an epiphany about where our word "o'clock" comes from. I would vote for "thresh corn" and a note about what that means in Britain, but we can't blame TMGR for "shear corn" - which could still stand an explanation. That's the way it is in my old Book of Knowledge.

TMGR views the original final line as a bit too romantic. The Book of Knowledge puts it, "And you and I will keep ourselves warm."


Page 169. A Fish for You

    There once was a fish. 
      (What more could you wish?)
    He lived in the sea.
      (Where else would he be?)

Rhyme original to TMGR? A web search (Sep 2008) showed no indication this rhyme existed prior to the publication of TMGR in 1998. On the other hand, the form of this rhyme, with alternating statement and parenthetical comments, seems a passing odd choice for someone counterfeiting Mother Goose rhymes.


Page 172. The deer he loves the high wood

TMGR changes "hart" to "deer".


Page 174. Jenny shall have a new bonnet

TMGR changes "Johnny" to "Jenny" throughout. Thus, the original first verse goes:

    Johnny shall have a new bonnet, 
      And Johnny shall go to the fair, 
    And Johnny shall have a blue ribbon 
      To tie up his bonny brown hair.

Also, TMGR omits the last two verses which suggest that Johnny is just a baby.


Page 177. My Love

    Saw ye aught of my love         Have you seen my love 
      A-coming from the market?  
    A peck of meal upon her back, 
      A babby in her basket; 
    Saw ye aught of my love         Have you seen my love 
      A-coming from the market?  

This is another of my favorites; the old-fashioned speech knocks me out.


Page 178. Fiddle-de-dee, fiddle-de-dee

    Fiddle-de-dee, fiddle-de-dee, 
      The fly shall marry the humble-bee.
    They went to the church, and married was she; 
      The fly has married the humble-bee.  
              had             bumblebee. 

Yes, "humblebee" is still in the dictionary, meaning "a bumblebee".


Page 179. I Love Coffee

    I love coffee, 
      I love tea, 
    I love the girls, 
      and they love me.

You all probably know more about this one than I do. It's not in any of my other Mother Goose books. First inclusion in a Mother Goose collection? I don't feel it's up to snuff.


Page 192. Elizabeth, Lizzy, Betsy, and Bess

That's Elizabeth and three of her nicknames. Six of the seven occurrences of this one in my collection name "Elspeth" in the second spot, where TMGR has Lizzy. The other one has "Libby". Even though I've never heard of an Elspeth in my life, it's interesting to know that there was a time when Elspeth was a nickname for Elizabeth. One of my things is how educational fictional material can be.


Page 196. Riddle Me This

This riddle about "over the head and under the hat" (hair) is new to my Mother Goose collection, but some boy was heard to say it in Oxford in 1436. An you don't believe me, do your own web search.


Page 206. Do you ask what the birds say?

Poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. First inclusion in a Mother Goose collection?


Page 209. Mary had a little bird

Poem by Elizabeth Turner, 1807. Other Mother Goose books in my collection give just the first two verses; TMGR adds a third with the moral.


Page 210. Behold the duck.

Poem by Ogden Nash. First inclusion in a Mother Goose collection?


Page 211. When up aloft

Poem by Thomas Hardy, 1917. First inclusion in a Mother Goose collection?


Page 213. The Owl and the Pussycat

Poem by Edward Lear. This one has already appeared alongside Mother Goose rhymes in several books in my collection.


Page 215. Time to Rise

Poem by Robert Louis Stevenson, 1913. First inclusion in a Mother Goose collection?


Page 217. The north wind doth blow

Song goes back at least as far as a book called Pleasant Pages For Young People, 1854. Other Mother Goose books in my collection give only the first verse about the poor robin keeping himself warm; TMGR gives a second verse about children keeping themselves warm.


Page 218. The Brown Thrush

Poem by Lucy Larcom, 1885. First inclusion in a Mother Goose collection?


Page 221. The evening is coming, the sun sinks to rest

The web gives no information on this rhyme titled "Bedtime", other than that it has another verse . . . and is copyright 2008 by Victoria Primm. Huh???

First inclusion in a Mother Goose collection? Or maybe even original to TMGR? Who knows?


Page 222. The Owl

Poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson. First inclusion in a Mother Goose collection?


Page 226. The moon has a face like a clock in the hall

Poem by Robert Louis Stevenson, 1913. First inclusion in a Mother Goose collection?


Page 229. There was an owl lived in an oak

    There was an owl lived in an oak
      Whiskey, Whaskey, Wheedle; 
    And all the words he ever spoke 
      Were Fiddle, Faddle, Feedle. 

    A sportsman chanced to come that way, 
    An old man 
      Whiskey, Whaskey, Wheedle; 
    Says he, "I'll shoot you, silly bird, 
              I    see   you, 
      So Fiddle, Faddle, Feedle!"

TMGR takes it much easier on the poor owl.


Page 224. Three Little Kittens

TMGR makes severe cuts to this one. Here, the kittens are rewarded with pie for losing their mittens. In the original, four-verse version, the kittens are scolded when they lose their mittens and again when they soil their mittens eating the pie. The full version also ends on a menacing note: "We smell a rat close by."


Page 247. Three times round goes our gallant ship

A web search indicates this is an English children's game. First inclusion in a Mother Goose collection?


Page 253. Polly, put the kettle on

The first two verses about Polly and Sukey are well-known, but TMGR adds a third verse which appears to be original. A web search (Sep 2008) turned up not a single hit on "Start the fire and make the toast".


Page 254. Up in the green orchard

I mention this one only because of the illustration. There are many instances in this book of human characters in the rhymes being depicted as animals in the illustrations. In general, I do not appreciate that. This is an exception. The rhyme ends:

    And Reuben and Robin 
      Shall gather them all.  

In the illustration, Reuben and Robin are small donkeys gathering the apples - very lovely.

Up in the green orchard.


Page 256. Goober and I

    Baby and I were baked in a pie, 
      The gravy was wonderful hot.
      And it 
    We had nothing to pay 
      The baker that day
    And so we crept out of the pot.  
     -                  and ran away. 

At least TMGR saves Baby from getting baked. The illustration shows two peanuts (beans? potatoes?) escaping from the pie.


Page 257. Two Make It

    Two make it, 
    Two bake it, 
    Two break it.

The illustration shows two chipmunks sharing a fresh-baked loaf of bread. But there's more to it than that. A bit of research indicates that this is only the first part of custom of the British Isles described in Soane's Book of Months, 1849. A third party puts the cake under the pillows of the first two, whereupon they will dream of the man they love.

First inclusion in a Mother Goose collection?


Page 258. Little Miss Tucket sat on a bucket

Rhyme original to TMGR? A web search (Sep 2008) showed no indication this rhyme existed prior to the publication of TMGR in 1998.


Page 268. A big fat bowl of dumplings, boiling in the pot

Rhyme original to TMGR? A web search (Sep 2008) showed no indication this rhyme existed prior to the publication of TMGR in 1998.


Page 274. Old Mother Hubbard

TMGR gives only the first two verses; there are about 15 more. Old Mother Hubbard had one remarkable, rascally dog!


Page 277. Old Mother Goose

TMGR gives only the first verse; there are twelve or so more, telling the story of Mother Goose's son Jack, his goose, and its golden egg.


Page 278. There Was an Old Woman

    There was an old woman
      Who lived in a shoe.
    She had so many children, 
      She didn't know what to do.
    She gave them some broth 
      Without any bread.
    She whipped them all soundly 
        kissed           sweetly 
      And put them to bed.

I'll admit, even to an old curmudgeon like me, the whipping didn't sound completely justified.


Page 295. I have a white dog whose name is Spot

Rhyme original to TMGR? A web search (Sep 2008) showed no indication this rhyme, titled "My Dog Spot", existed prior to the publication of TMGR in 1998.


Page 299. Old Mother Quack lived in a shack

Rhyme original to TMGR? A web search (Sep 2008) turned up not a single instance of "Old Mother Quack".


Page 300. I'm just a little puppy

Poem by Edith Brown Kirkwood, published at least as early as 1913. First inclusion in a Mother Goose collection?


Page 307. Leg Over Leg

    Leg over leg, 
      As the dog went to Dover; 
    When he came to a stile, 
      Jump! he went over. 

Wouldn't it have been just as easy, and more fun and educational, for the illustrator to show kids nowadays what a stile is?


Page 312. Gray Goose

    Gray Goose and gander,
      Waft your wings together
    And carry the king's daughter
      Over the one-strand river.  

Now I'm going beyond my assigned duties here. This one's not new to my collection, nor has TMGR changed anything. I include it mostly because I think it's very nice, and for the daringness of using nothing but "-er" syllables for all of the rhyming.

But the fact that TMGR did not make a change is mildly interesting. A "one-strand" river wouldn't mean much to a modern kid, and they might have changed it to "one-beach", for example, or simply substituted any other fitting adjective. In the first appearance of this rhyme in my collection, the editors apparently tried to help by changing "one-strand" to "one-stand". I was totally baffled until I finally got the correct version.


Page 314. My Little Pink

    My little Pink,
      I suppose you think,
    I cannot do without you,
      I'll let you know before I go,
    How little I care about you.       How I will fare without you. 

TMGR softens the blow of the last line.

This one is new to my collection, but the web indicates it was included in an 1895 book called The True Mother Goose. This is the only case I've found of a "new" rhyme in the third category (see discussion at top) that has already been published in a Mother Goose collection.


Page 316. Dressed in Blue

    Those dressed in blue
      Have loves true;
    In green and white,
      Forsaken quite.

Rhyme original to TMGR? A web search (Sep 2008) showed no indication this rhyme existed prior to the publication of TMGR in 1998.


Page 317. Blue Ribbon

    If you love me, love me true,
      Send me a ribbon, and let it be blue; 
    If you hate me, let it be seen, 
           do not, 
      Send me a ribbon, a ribbon of green.  

"Hate" is a bit strong, isn't it? Note the parallel with the rhyme above: Blue means love; green a lack thereof. (Hey, a new Mother Goose rhyme!)

This was included in a collection of English folk-rhymes at least as long ago as 1892. First inclusion in a Mother Goose collection?


Page 322. There was a little green house

TMGR misses that this one is a riddle. It's not placed in the Riddle Rhymes section, and the illustration has no connection with the answer to the riddle, a walnut.


Page 324. Jolly Red Nose

    Nose, nose, jolly red nose, 
      And what gave you
    That jolly red nose?
      Nutmeg and ginger, 
    Cinnamon and cloves, 
      That's what gave me 
    This jolly red nose.  

This one is a bit more humorous under the title given in the Oxford Nursery Rhyme Book: "Prevarication".


Page 330. I like little kitty

This is the well-known rhyme, "I love little pussy, her coat is so warm".


Page 337. The Kitten at Play

Extracted from the poem by William Wordsworth. First inclusion in a Mother Goose collection?


Page 339. Kitty cat ate the dumplings

TMGR changes "pussy-cat" to "kitty cat", and "Oh, fie!" to "Oh, my!"

Be aware that TMGR is not consistently squeamish about letting "pussy" stand for what it's always meant. For example, "The Owl and the Pussy-cat" and "Pussy-cat, pussy-cat, where have you been?" remain undoctored.


Page 341. Sing, Sing

    Sing, sing, what shall I sing?
      The cat's run away with the pudding-string. 
                              my shoestring. 
    Do, do, what shall I do? 
      The cat has bitten it quite in two.  

Admittedly, who knows what a pudding-string is anymore? But wouldn't an explanatory note and good illustration do the job? And we might actually learn a little about how people used to live.


Page 345. Two Gray Kits

    The two gray kits, 
      And the gray kits' mother, 
    All went over
      The bridge together. 

    The bridge broke down, 
      They all fell in; 
    "May the rats go with you,"     "Put on your suits, 
      Says Tom Bolin.                 Let's go for a swim." 

Tom was not a very sympathetic lad, was he?


Page 346. Ding, dong, bell, Kitty's in the well

TMGR changes "pussy" and "pussy-cat" to "kitty" and "kitty cat".


Page 348. Dame Trot and her cat sat down for a chat

TMGR changes "Puss" to "Kitty".


Page 350. If All The Seas Were One Sea

Here's an example of an illustration that disappoints me for substituting an animal character for a human. The rhyme climaxes at, "And if all the men were one man, what a great man he would be!" The illustration gives us a smiling brown bear instead of a Paul Bunyan to end all Paul Bunyans.

If all the seas were one sea.


Page 361. I had a 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.

TMGR omits the final lines, which, in my opinion, lift this rhyme to a higher plane:

    I skipped over water, 
      I danced over sea, 
    And all the birds in the air 
      Couldn't catch me.  


Page 369. Sleep, baby, sleep, your father guards the sheep

According to my old Book of Knowledge, "this beautiful lullaby is translated from the German." Although it appears a few times in my Mother Goose index, it is there by virtue of proximity to known Mother Goose rhymes in books not specifically "Mother Goose". First inclusion in a specifically Mother Goose collection?


Page 370. Hush-a-bye

    Hush-a-bye, baby, 
      Lie still with thy daddy. 
    Thy mammy is gone to the mill, 
    Your mommy has 
      To get some meal to bake a cake.
    So pray, my dear baby, lie still.  

In some of my Mother Goose books, "babby" is used instead of "baby" here. Besides being a neat, old word, it makes a near-rhyme with "daddy".

Likewise with the line "To get some meal to bake a cake". In some of my books it appears as "To get some wheat, to make some meat". This, too, has an internal rhyme which sounds intentional to me. I'm sure making meat from wheat used to make perfect sense; Old English "mete" meant food.


Page 371. Sleep Tight

    Good night, 
    Sleep tight, 
    Don't let the bedbugs bite.

Obviously an old saying, but first inclusion in a Mother Goose collection?


Page 378. Come let's to bed, says Sleepy-head

    Come, let's to bed, 
      Says Sleepy-head.
    Tarry awhile, says Slow.
    Sit up 

    Put on the pot,
      Says Greedy-gut,
    We'll sup before we go.

The nine other appearances of this rhyme in my collection are limited to the above two verses. TMGR adds a third and fourth verse:

    To bed, to bed, 
      Cried Sleepy-head.
    But all the rest said no.

    Is is morning now;
      You must milk the cow, 
    And tomorrow to bed we go. 

Last verses original to TMGR? The line "you must milk the cow" appears only a few times on the web, and never in conjunction with any characteristic part of this rhyme.


Page 380. Lullaby and Good Night

The last one in the book appears to be a slightly modified extract from the English lyrics to Brahms' Lullaby. For this comparison, I've placed Brahms' Lullaby in the left column, and the complete, four-line TMGR rhyme in the right column. The line "Put your head down and sleep tight" appears to be original to TMJR. First inclusion of Brahms' Lullaby, in any form, in a Mother Goose collection?

    Lullaby, and good night,           Lullaby and good night, 
    With pink roses bedight,           Put your head down and sleep tight, 
    With lilies o'erspread,            
    Is my baby's sweet head.           
    Lay you down now, and rest,        Lay down now, and rest, 
    May your slumber be blessed!       May your slumber be blessed. 
    Lay you down now, and rest,
    May thy slumber be blessed!

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Helpful keywords not in the main text: pc = political correctness (Why does the term itself repulse me so?) Illustrators: Wendy Edelson, Jane Chambless Wright, Lisa Berrett, Krista Brauckmann-Towns, Jon Goodell, Kate Sturman Gorman, Judith Dufour Love, Ben Mahan, Anastasia Mitchell, Anita Nelson, Lori Nelson Field, Debbie Pinkney, Karen Pritchett, Rosario Valderrama. Johnny shall have a new bonnet. Elizabeth, Elspeth, Betsy, and Bess. Pussy-cat ate the dumplings. Ding, dong, bell, Pussy's in the well.

Parents, if you're considering tutoring or supplemental education for your child, you may be interested in my observations on Kumon.