Terrifying, Thoughtful, and Absurd Rhymes for Children • In more repressed times, people were not always allowed to express themselves freely, for fear of persecution. Gossiping, criticizing the government or even talking about current events was often punishable by death. In order to communicate at will, clever rhymes were constructed and passed around to parody public figures and events. • The first nursery rhymes can be traced back to the fourteenth century. • Under the guise of children’s entertainment, many rhymes that were encoded with secret messages throughout history have endured the test of time and are still with us today.
Why were rhymes with historical meaning created? • To remember history . . . • Not everyone could read and write. • This was their way to remember history, • Or to teach their children. • The best way to remember is a rhyme.
Terrifying, Thoughtful, and Absurd Rhymes for Children • Other nursery rhymes don’t seem to carry a particular message at all, but convey a gruesome sense of humor. • They have been so ingrained in us since childhood that we hardly notice that babies are falling from trees, women are held captive, or live animals are being cooked. • It is only when you stop and absorb the actual words of these catchy, sing-song rhymes that the darkness and absurdity is realized. • A handful do not reference historical events at all, but instead seem to convey warnings or common sense wisdom.
Humpty Dumpty • Humpty Dumpty was a powerful cannon used in during the English Civil War. • It was mounted on top of the St Mary’s at the Wall Church in Colchester defending the city, but the wall crumbled under fire and the greatly feared weapon broke. • The “king’s men” (people loyal to the crown) lost the battle due to the loss of the cannon.
Did You Know? Mary, Mary, quite contrary, How does your garden grow? With silver bells and cockle shells And pretty maids all in a row. This is a protestant condemnation “Bloody” Mary (Queen Mary I). Protestants could not speak openly against the Queen without retribution so they spoke in more or less a code of wit.
Mary, Mary . . . Mary, Mary, quite contrary, Mary is a disagreeable Catholic tyrant. How does your garden grow? The garden referred to is filled with the graves of protestant martyrs/opponents of the Queen and the growing number of such victims under her oppressive rule. With silver bells and cockle shells Instruments of torture such as thumbscrews And pretty maids all in a row. Instruments like the guillotine known as “maids” to behead enemies
Ring around the Rosie Ring around the rosyA pocketful of posies"Ashes, Ashes"We all fall down!
Ring around the Rosie • Linked to the Bubonic Plague • A “ring of rose” colored rings appeared on the skin. • People kept posies with them because they thought the plague was spread by bad smells. • “Ashes, Ashes, We all fall down” is from burning the bodies after the people died.
GeorgiePorgie It refers to the courier George Villiers, the first Duke of Buckingham. (1600’s) Villiers had good looks that appealed to the ladies. Villier was good friends with the king. This offered him some protection, but he had to look out for jealous husbands who would come after him and make him “run away.” GeorgiePorgie pudding and pie, Kissed the girls and made them cry. When the boys came out to play, GeorgiePorgie ran away.
One, Two, Buckle My Shoe! One two buckle my shoeThree, four, knock at the doorFive, six, pick up sticksSeven, eight, lay them straightNine, ten, a big fat henEleven, twelve, dig and delveThirteen, fourteen, maids a-courtingFifteen, sixteen, maids in the kitchenSeventeen, eighteen, maids in waitingNineteen, twenty, my plate's empty
One, Two, Buckle My Shoe! • Used to help children count • Made it fun to learn • Easy to remember
Some nursery rhymes are just fun… But most are to help teach, remember history, or even to make fun of royalty.
Your turn! • Create a nursery rhyme to teach about one of the Crusades. • Type it • Include clip art (find this LAST!) • Share with me • Include at least 4 historically accurate events • Must be clear enough to understand • Must have rhythm, rhyme, and child appealing characters • Show effort and pride