Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Did Humpty Dumpty Really Fall Off a Wall?

Alright kids lets go way back to our school days.. no not the days of high school and middle school. Most people if you asked them would say that they had the most fun when they were in high school or middle school. Pfft.. so cliched. I want to take you way back to the days when you were just starting school. I'm talking about the period from Kindergarten to Class 2 or 3 - The most important time of our lives. This is where we first learnt the three R's - Reading, Writing and Arithmetic. (technically that should be "where we first learnt R,W and A.. confused the hell out of me when I was a kid but the key is in how you pronounce the words! I can see some of you now finally understand why they were called the Three R's)

For today's lesson we will be concentrating on Reading only. I'd want your rapt attention and pin drop silence. Reading first consisted of learning to read the Alphabets and numbers. Yeah the famous Alphabet song. Easiest lyrics ever! Lets skip a few chapters and proceed to the main part - Nursery Rhymes. I always loved reciting nursery rhymes. I probably have this hidden talent as a poet in me but I nowadays produce poems which are often laughed at.

For me the saddest nursery rhyme goes like this -

Rock-a-bye-baby On 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 used to feel so sad for the poor little baby who fell from the tree. I used to think to myself "Oh Why did that bough break?" . I remember asking my mother if the baby died or not. Till date I have not been told the answer. Hope that baby lived or else I'll go into depression. Here is a picture which I've always had in my head about the little baby:

Enough of tragedy in nursery rhymes? No actually not - we're now going to have a look at Poor Little Humpty Dumpty who all the king's men couldn't put together again. You're thinking.."oh cute little rhyme" but like most nursery rhymes this one too has a bit of history attached to it. This website I
ndianchild.com tells us that Humpty Dumpty was actually the nickname of a cannon placed atop a church in England which subsequently fell down when the church was attacked during a battle. The English people liked the cannon so much they composed a rhyme in remembrance and it trickled down into our text books.

Another nursery rhyme associated with something more tragic than a stupid olde cannon is the also widely known -

Ring-a-Ring o'Rosies
A Pocket full of Posies
"A-tishoo! A-tishoo!"
We all fall Down!

This cute little rhyme is one associated with the Bubonic plague which.. er.. plagued Europe back in the olde days. The symptoms of this plague included a rosy red rash on the skin and violent sneezing and then people would fall sick and die. Try teaching that to the kids now!

Depressing stuff I know but brace yourselves for more depression - Baa Baa Black Sheep? Yep this too was not about some poor little black sheep and a boy. It was apparently about
where you were supposed to give a lot of your money in taxes to the king of England or something like that. Twinkle Twinkle Little Star? Apparently back in the middle ages the sun came so close to the earth that the earth evaporated into nothingness and the only surviving man who happened to be on the moon at that time wrote this rhyme. I didn't make that up. It really happened.

Anyhow my clock has now struck one and my mouse has now run up the clock and I gotta run. If that statement vaguely reminds you of a nursery rhyme then you can all give yourselves a pat on the back.

(Quick Note - Someone asked in a previous post about the meaning of the title of my blog -
Angel Dust and Bones : Angel Dust is the name of an album put out by one of my favourite rock bands - Faith No More; Dust n' Bones is the name of a Guns n' Roses song. Angel Dust is also the code name for a hallucinatory drug called PCP... and no PCP is not one of my favourite drugs . I hallucinate enough already without drugs.


feddabonn said...

completely agree about the baby. always thought it was rather cruel.

btw, heard the modernised versions of jack and jill? or georgie porgie?

Calliopia said...

The mark of a great set of little grey cells and a gift for writing - producing a readable piece out of seemingly nowhere. When I first saw this title I thought for a moment you were going to write a conspiracy theory thing on Humpty D. I once attended a refreshers' course class where the RP spoke of sth along those lines though I forget how exactly.

Yes, funny how such seemingly innocent nursery rhymes have such grim origins. I've heard of the Ring a ring o'roses but not the others. Interesting post. Now why don't you go dig up more stuff on Jack and Jill, Ding dong bell, Polly put the kettle on, Pop goes the weasel etc?

aduhi said...

Interesting. For all you folks who would like to know more about the origins of some nursery rhymes here is the link.

virgochhas said...

flirting - check
partying - check
going to concerts - check
etc etc. - check

boring...what next...oooo...i'll have a blog and write about nursery rhymes, my highschool crush, hybrid kids etc :P

Mos-a said...

@Baruk - yes I've heard about them. I had half a mind to write about the modern ones too but the post was becoming tooooooo long. Maybe Ill write about those in a sequel!

@Calliopa - Yes Im turning out into a brilliant writes tee hee hee no seriously thanks. yes turns out that most nursery rhymes have a bit of history attached to them. The background of the rhymes I find more interesting than the rhymes themselves.

@Aduhi - thnx so mch fr ur cmmnt :P

@Virgo - hmmm bleh ALL your blogposts are about ONE thing - your baby. how borrrrrrrrrrrring. He's cute though.

illusionaire said...

lolz @ Virgo & Mos. XD

And yeah, what about the origin of "Ho, ho, ho"?

Mimihrahsel said...

and i was always afraid of Wee Willie Winkie :-)
as a matter of fact, i can still remember the picture we had in our nursery rhymes book - a lady with a black coat carrying a lantern. hehe

Jerusha said...

I never knew that about baa baa black sheep! Nursery rhymes are full of violence and gory things too. Think about 'four and twenty blackbird baked in a pie' OR 'Piggy on the railway picking up stones, along came an engine and broke piggy's bone/bones' And we can't forget the famous Georgie Porgie who 'kissed the girls and made them cry' but ran away when the boys came out to play! And Clementine who 'hit her foot against a splinter, fell into the foaming brine...ruby lips above the water, blowing bubbles soft and fine.. etc etc' and of course eventually drowned. There was another one about worms that used to scare me but I can't remember....

Jerusha said...

Ah got it! "Nobody likes me, everybody hates me, I think I’ll go eat worms, Big fat juicy ones, small thin skinny ones, see how they wiggle and squirm, you bite off the head and you suck out the juice and you throw the skin away..."

:) Just overflows with childish cuteness doesn't it!

Anonymous said...

Revisiting childhood.. eh?? As I had said earlier, Adulthood takes all the fun out of Childhood. I'll bet your children are gonna be shit-scared of you when you reveal the secrets of Nursery Rhymes.
I hope your next post is about Fairy tales, Thumbelina, Snow White, etc etc.. although I've always wondered if Lewis Caroll was sober when he wrote the story of Alice in Wonderland? Great imagination there....

Shahnaz Kimi said...

I studied about the racial intonation about the rhymes and cartoons on TV the other day in my linguistics class, and I thought to myself what a coincidence about your well written post! Well done...

Shahnaz Kimi said...

yaaay...now I do not have to be anon anymore cos your network accepted me......MY previous COMMENT is incomplete...so here it is:

I studied about the racial intonation(s) about how the rhymes are interpreted or taught in many former colonial countries and that many former colonialist / missionary teachers used these rhymes to make the people learn the language; and of course in the present modern days cartoon developers are using this same tone on TV, internet etc...
A great subject for a scholar to research upon...if anyone is interested, I have loads of info on this topic..
Well written post...

Rita Zoye said...

Too much into deep thoughts aye?

Sad but true... we used to love those songs, sing them over and over again. We had our times with those songs..
Plz Dont tell the kids, let them have their own time and later for them to realize... no offence please.

Anyways, love to read your blogs

Andy Varte said...

Have only recently been introduced to your blog. It's superb - the writing, the design. Kudos to your obvious talent for writing and sense of beauty!

Jennifer said...

I have never thought about cruelties being imbibed in Nursery Rhymes but your analysation/criticism now made me wonder if I'll teach those things to my kids if I ever have one...no offence please
I admired how you put your deep thoughts together to come up with such a brilliant writing though keep it up!