Questions tagged [nursery-rhyme]

For questions about nursery rhymes, traditional poems or songs for children.

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92 votes
2 answers
15k views

How do we know Humpty Dumpty was an egg?

As depicted in 1870 by James William Elliott's National Nursery Rhymes and Nursery Songs, the nursery rhyme "Humpty Dumpty" goes as follows: Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great ...
13 votes
4 answers
5k views

Meaning/significance of "All the King's horses" in the Humpty Dumpty nursery rhyme?

If you're not familiar with the nursery rhyme: after Humpty Dumpty falls off the wall, you get the two lines All the king's horses and all the king's men Couldn't put Humpty together again But what ...
9 votes
4 answers
24k views

What is Jack's crown?

The English nursing rhyme "Jack and Jill" has several verses. The first verse is: Jack and Jill went up the hill To fetch a pail of water. Jack fell down and broke his crown, And ...
10 votes
1 answer
23k views

Origin and significance of E-I-E-I-O in the Old MacDonald song

The well-known children's song "Old MacDonald had a Farm" has lyrics in the following format: Old MacDonald had a farm E-I-E-I-O ! And on that farm he had {article} {singular or plural ...
10 votes
1 answer
4k views

Why is "Oranges and Lemons" supposed to describe child sacrifice?

The popular nursery rhyme "Oranges and Lemons": Oranges and lemons, Say the bells of St. Clement’s. You owe me five farthings, Say the bells of St. Martin’s. When will you pay me? Say the ...
5 votes
0 answers
525 views

Does the poem "Once an engine attached to a train..." predate the Railway Series?

As confirmed in interviews with Rev. Awdry, the Railway Series initially grew from a nursery rhyme told to his sick son in 1942, normally called "Down By The Station". This dates in ...
2 votes
1 answer
3k views

What does "his name is my name too" mean in "John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt"?

"John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt" is a kid's song that goes like this: John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt His name is my name, too Whenever we go out The people always shout There goes John ...
5 votes
1 answer
155 views

The Grand Old Duke of York: how did historical events become nursery rhymes?

"The Grand old Duke of York" is a well-known English nursery rhyme concerning the exploits of an not-specifically-identified duke of York. Wikipedia, citing the Opies and other books, gives ...
8 votes
2 answers
230 views

What do you call a break in rhyming in the middle of a book / poem for dramatic effect?

I'm creating a children's book for a school project. I've been tasked to identify some literary devices used throughout the book. There is a section of the book which I want to highlight because it ...
9 votes
3 answers
10k views

Why did "they" go to sea in a sieve?

In the poem 'The Jumblies' by Edward Lear, the protagonists go to sea in a sieve. They went to sea in a Sieve, they did, In a Sieve they went to sea: In spite of all their friends could say,...
5 votes
1 answer
721 views

How many were going to St. Ives?

The traditional nursery rhyme/riddle "As I was Going to St. Ives" appears to have a simple answer Q. How many were there going to St. Ives? A. Just the traveller. But is this what the author ...
7 votes
1 answer
4k views

Hot Cross Bun Paradox

In the nursery rhyme Hot Cross Buns, there's the line One a penny, two a penny, hot cross buns Does this mean that you can buy a hot cross bun for either 1p or 0.5p? If so, why would anyone buy only ...
7 votes
3 answers
3k views

How did the man going from/coming to St Ives have seven wives?

Wikipedia indicates that the classic riddle "As I was Going to St Ives" was written at some point in the 1700s or 1800s. As I was going to St Ives I met a man with seven wives Bigamy, however ...
7 votes
1 answer
1k views

Is the nursery rhyme Jack and Jill based on real life events?

Jack and Jill went up the hill To fetch a pail of water. Jack fell down and broke his crown, And Jill came tumbling after. Up Jack got, and home did trot, As fast as he could caper, ...