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September 13, 2009

Worst Nursery Rhyme Ever

My friend Kate gave us a gorgeous Mother Goose collection when Harriet was born, and Stuart and I have been happily reacquainting ourselves with the rhymes since then. And Mem Fox does prescribe at least five nursery rhymes per day (“Begin on the day they are born. I am very serious about this: at least three stories and five nursery rhymes a day, if not more, and not only at bedtime, either”) so we’ve been following her recommended dosages, and then some. We ended up receiving another collection used from our neighbours, and so now we’ve got Mother Goose for upstairs and down. And how wonderful, to discover these rhymes with their words and rhythms, and to realize we’ve known them all along, stored somewhere in the back of our minds but coming back to us just like that.

“Hey Diddle Diddle” is Harriet’s favourite, we’ve decided, because it was the first nursery rhyme she ever heard (on her second day in the world, when we walked part way down the hall in the hospital, and stopped at the “Hey Diddle Diddle” mural, because I could go no further).

But we hate “Bat Bat”. Neither Stuart nor I had heard it before, and when we found it in the first collection, we thought maybe the editor’s son had written it, and they’d included it to be nice. Because it was a load of crap. But it’s in our second book too, so it must be real:

Bat bat come under my hat
and I’ll give you a slice of bacon
and when I bake
I’ll give you cake
if I am not mistaken.

We’re going to start skipping this one, so not to put Harriet off nursery rhymes altogether. They’re all a bit goofy, but “Bat Bat” is idiotic: why would you want a bat under your hat? And would one be enticed by a slice of bacon? Who’d entice a bat? Do bats eat cake? And doesn’t all of this suggest the narrator is indeed mistaken? Nonsense is one thing, but stupid is another.

Worst Nursery Rhyme Ever.

4 thoughts on “Worst Nursery Rhyme Ever”

  1. BabelBabe says:

    there are some nursery rhymes that just don't….scan. Is that the right word? The meter is just a bit off. Those are the ones that drive me crazy. Lemme go find some for examples : )

    Oh, the one about dining on strawberries and cream…blah blah blah, be my love, sew a fine seam….something something, too many feet…strawberries and cream. Isn't that helpful? I'll go find it…

  2. Kerry says:

    I don't know that one, haven't yet found it in either of our anthologies. Must say I've become pretty obsessed with nursery rhymes I DO like, and perhaps I'll write more about that soon.

  3. BabelBabe says:

    I do love Hey Diddle Diddle. So much so that i contemplated painting it round the kids' room, accompanied by appropriate illustrations. I also dig the Crooked Man.

  4. Susan says:

    “Bat, Bat” is an old English nursery rhyme. You can read a bit about the probable origins in the book Bats: Biology, Behavior, and Folklore (available on Google Books…just search within the book for “bacon”). 🙂

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