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Pop Goes the Weasel: The Secret Meanings of Nursery Rhymes Paperback – September 29, 2009
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Top Customer Reviews
In this book, the author sometimes failed to establish clearly the origins of some of them, offering conflicting theories and suggesting the one that is likeliest to be true. However, he has no doubt that Humpty Dumpty was originally a cannon that sat in a church tower during the English Civil War. The cannon was very effective at protecting the royalist stronghold of Colchester until one day when the republicans managed to bring down the entire church tower. So Humpty Dumpty had a great fall and all the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't put Humpty together again. The question of the origin of the name is not answered, nor even asked in this book, but the author explains why Humpty Dumpty is now portrayed as an egg; this was the way he was portrayed in Alice through the looking glass, and the image has stuck. The rival publication Hey diddle diddle suggests that Humpty Dumpty was originally a name given to an obese person.
Elsewhere in the book, the author has unearthed plenty of old rhymes and attempts to explain their origins. The text for each rhyme is given in full, which is just as well because I don't recognize a lot of them and even those that I do recognize contain verses that I don't remember.Read more ›
Some examples to illustrate:
"Baa, baa black sheep,
Have you any wool?
Yes sir, yes sir,
Three bags full.
One for the master,
One for the dame,
And one for the little boy
Who lives down the lane."
Edward Longshanks--Edward I. He taxed wool to fund his campaigns and other foreign adventures. 1/3 of the price of each sack went to the king (master), 1/3 to the church (the dame), and none to the actual shepherd (the little boy).
I used to think that "Ring-a-Ring O' Roses" (or, as I learned it, "Ring around the rosey") was about the Black Plague. However, the book notes pretty persuasively that that was unlikely.
"Three Blind Mice"? A number of hypotheses. One of those is a reference to "Bloody" Mary, Queen of England. The three blind mice represented former leaders whom Mary imprisoned and then executed.
Anyhow, a lot of fun exploring the origins of the meaning of many of our favorite nursery tales. . .
Because of the rhyme chosen as the title and the cover art, I really expected a tongue in cheek look at the rhymes' history and more than a little humor. Unfortunately, I found none of that and was a little disappointed that the subject was approached so seriously. The research was prodigious and more than one potential meaning was given if the origin of a rhyme was questionable. I recognized most of the rhymes, probably due to my heritage and age, and enjoyed being reminded of them. I certainly learned a lot and valued the insight, but was hoping for a laugh or two.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The book arrived quickly, provides the information I was seeking. It's great.Published 15 days ago by athena777
This is a fun reference as are the other books by Albert Goes. I know about some of the Nursery Rimes but never realized how many there were. Read morePublished 20 months ago by bernie
I went to the UK this summer on a tour with my daughter. The tour guide used stories from this book quite a bit to explain English history. Read morePublished 24 months ago by nallred
A useful conmpanion for British History classes. Once you start to read one nursery rhyme you want to read all of them. I've really enjoyed it, and so have the students.Published on May 14, 2014 by Jorge Di Nucci
It was just what I was expecting and more. I wanted to know more about the meanings of Nursery Rhymes. Love it.... ThankyouPublished on December 10, 2013 by Ann
Because the book fulfilled my expectations. It is packed with historical anecdotes and explanations of the social and political conditions underlying the nursery rhymes.Published on November 3, 2013 by Longstreet