Monday, July 25, 2005

Children's Rhymes?

Thanks to our daughter, now my husband and I know more nursery rhymes than we ever did! We have this CD collection with 100 rhymes. I was surprised that I only knew about 10-15 songs in the entire collection. Slowly along with my daughter, I too learnt them. Most of the songs are really cute like 'How much is the doggy in the window, Wooh, wooh!' or 'Do your ears hang low?' But there are some which are crude, gory.

There is this lullaby called 'Rock-a-bye baby'

Rock-a-bye, baby,
In the treetop,
When the wind blows
The cradle will rock;
When the bough breaks
The cradle will fall,
And down will come baby,Cradle and all.

I'm puzzled why anybody would sing this to their child?

Then, there is this famous, 'Three blind mice'

Three blind mice,
Three blind mice
See how they run,
See how they run!
They all ran after the farmer's wife
She cut off their tails with a carving knife
Did you ever see such a sight in your life
As three blind mice?

The farmer's wife in the rhyme is believed to be Queen Mary I of England. Mary was a Catholic and her persecution of Protestants led to her nickname, Bloody Mary. The three blind mice are said to have been three Protestant noblemen who were convicted of plotting against Mary. She didn't have them chopped up as the poem suggests, instead they were burned at the stake.

My daughter often hums this song called Clementine. The lyrics goes something like this...

Oh, my darling, oh, my darling
Oh, my darling Clementine
You are lost and gone forever
Dreadful sorry, Clementine

How I missed her, how I missed her
How I missed my Clementine
Till I kissed her little sister
And forgot my Clementine!!!!!!!!

And there are a few rhymes my daughter refuses to listen to. One of them is

My bonnie lies over the ocean
My bonnie lies over the sea
My bonnie lies over the ocean
Oh bring back my bonnie to me

Bring back, bring back
Bring back my Bonnie to me, to me
Bring back, bring back
Bring back my Bonnie to me

My daughter can't understand English and it puzzles me if she can sense the mood of the song that she doesn't want to sing/listen!!

The whole idea for this post came to me since my daughter has started asking what these rhymes mean when we read/listen.


Munimma said...

Yep, most of the children's rhymes, if you delve into the meaning, are quite terrible. Some have histories linked to them, and they are not the happy ones. London fire, plague, Mary's death all are part of popular rhymes.

The first time I went thru the rhymes book for my older one, I skipped most of them. And we think Amar Chitra Kathas are violent :-D

Sadhashiv said...

I do not know abt the story of Bloody Mary... but i know that in Aruna Bar in T. Nagar they serve a drink called Bloody Mary... may be i will taste it and see whether it has some relevance with this rhyme

Me too said...

Munimma, true most of them are English folk songs of that time. But how did they come to be part of Children's rhymes is what puzzles me!

Sadashiv, 'yedho oru saakku, onnakku Bar poradhukku'!!

Balaji said...

hmmm... didnt realise there were so many 'violent' nursery rhymes out there... maybe cos my daughter's never been big on nursery rhymes. just the ones she learns in school and they sure didn't teach her any of these :) ippo her fav is 'devuda devuda'. nothing violent there :)

Me too said...

Balaji, nalladha pochu! Thalaivar paattum aachu, saami paattu madirium aachu!! I am now thinking if I should try 'Sriranga ranga naadhanai..' with my daughter. All paa(r)tties can be satisfied!!