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A Short Analysis of the ‘Sing a Song of Sixpence’ Nursery Rhyme

‘Sing a Song of Sixpence’ is one of the best-known nursery rhymes in English literature, but its words are so baffling and odd that it almost qualifies as nonsense literature. Whilst not quite up there with ‘Hey Diddle Diddle’ in the nonsense stakes, ‘Sing a Song of Sixpence’ is nevertheless an odd little children’s rhyme. What does it mean, and what are its origins?

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? Read the rest of this entry

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A Short Analysis of the ‘Hey Diddle Diddle’ Nursery Rhyme

We tend to associate nonsense verse with those great nineteenth-century practitioners, Edward Lear and Lewis Carroll, forgetting that many of the best nursery rhymes are also classic examples of nonsense literature. ‘Hey Diddle Diddle’, with its bovine athletics and eloping cutlery and crockery, certainly qualifies as nonsense. What does this intriguing nursery rhyme mean, if anything? What are its origins? Iona and Peter Opie, in The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes (Oxford Dictionary of Nusery Rhymes), call ‘Hey Diddle Diddle’ ‘probably the best-known nonsense verse in the language’, adding, ‘a considerable amount of nonsense has been written about it.’

Hey, diddle, diddle,
The cat and the fiddle,
The cow jumped over the moon;
The little dog laughed
To see such sport,
And the dish ran away with the spoon. Read the rest of this entry

A Short Analysis of the ‘Hickory Dickory Dock’ Nursery Rhyme

‘Hickory dickory dock’ is one of the most recognisable nursery rhymes in the English language, but what its original purpose or meaning may have been is less clear. What does ‘Hickory dickory dock’ actually mean? Does it mean anything? First, here’s a reminder of the words:

Hickory, dickory, dock,
The mouse ran up the clock;
The clock struck one,
The mouse ran down,
Hickory, dickory, dock.

It’s worth noting that this version is taken from Iona and Peter Opie’s The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes (Oxford Dictionary of Nusery Rhymes), but some versions offer a different fourth line, and an alternative rhyme with ‘one’: Read the rest of this entry