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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Whats In A Poem

Me and my daughter have a difference of opinion on some of the old nursery rhymes (1) because some of them were not made for children or were made to scare children and now we teach our children to say them

Sing a song of sixpence,
A pocket full of rye.
Four and twenty blackbirds,
Baked in a pie.
When the pie was opened,
The birds began to sing;
Wasn't that a dainty dish,
To set before the king?
The king was in his counting house,
Counting out his money;
The queen was in the parlour,
Eating bread and honey.
The maid was in the garden,
Hanging out the clothes;
When down came a blackbird
And pecked off her nose.[1]

They send for the king's doctor,
who sewed it on again;
He sewed it on so neatly,
the seam was never seen.[1]
In the 16th century it was to the amusement of many to place live birds in a pie. It is also thought that perhaps the blackbirds have been seen as an allusion to monks during the period of Dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII, with Catherine of Aragon representing the queen, and Anne Boleyn is maid. The rye and the birds, have been seen to represent a tribute sent to Henry VII, and on another level, the term "pocketful of rye" may in fact refer to an older term of measurement. The number 24 has been tied to the Reformation and the printing of the English Bible with 24 letters. From a folklorish tradition, the blackbird taking the maid's nose has been seen as a demon stealing her soul.[4]
No corroborative evidence has been found to support these theories and given that the earliest version has only one verse and mentions "naughty boys" and not blackbirds, they can only be applicable if it is assumed that more recently printed versions accurately preserve an older tradition.[1]

resource used here

Shared on Poetry Picnic WEek


  1. thanks for this post, Angie! I found it quite interesting and,especially, since my daughter and I used to sing it when she was little :) Great job! Blessings, Terri

  2. Sing a song of sixpence,
    A pocket full of rye.
    Four and twenty blackbirds,
    Baked in a pie.

    love it, yummy and funny, smiles.
    Thanks for sharing.

  3. beautiful wordplay, wow.

    enjoyed it.

  4. It is amazing what we used to sing as children. Not much different today really.


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