Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Nursery Rhymes - Horror stories for the young

It has come to my attention that nursery rhymes are not sweet little ditties to teach children how to be nice each other and share their toys.

No, they are in fact 'soft horror'. Let's look at the evidence.

Ring a ring o roses - this is not a sweet collection of nonsense works strung together for the purpose of dancing and falling over. No, this is a song about the Black Death which wiped out huge swathes of the European population in the Middle Ages. The ring being the red rash, the pocket of posies are the herbs that were carried to ward off germs (not terribly successfully), the sneezing a further symptom and the falling down... well I think you can figure that out for yourselves.

Let's look at some more.

Rock a bye baby. In this rhyme some idiot has placed the baby's cradle in a tree from which it promptly falls out and down comes baby cradle and all. I'd rather not think about the consequences of these actions.

Jack and Jill. Jack 'breaks his crown'. Sounds to me like he fractures his skull. The boy needs hospitalisation and stitches. What does he get? Vinegar and brown paper - yes, that well known cure for a bleed on the brain. Jill comes tumblin after, but we don't get to hear what happens to the poor lass. Presumably Jack just left her there while he messed about with home remedies.

Little Miss Muffet - not only does she have to eat curdled milk, but she gets her wits scared out of her by a giant spider.

The old woman who lived in a shoe - will someone please call child protection.

Three blind mice - no one can pretend that this story ends well for the poor mice.

You get my drift...

And now, for my entry to the Inspiration Avenue creative challenge entitled Nursery Rhymes from which this strange blog post cometh

Watch them go round that bush... for tis not the Mulberry Sale right now and verily are there only four handbags left, but 6 little ladies dancing round the tree...? 

Original illustration by Arthur Rackham, Mulberry Handbags borrowed from Mulberry (hope they don't mind, but I did give them a link...)


  1. This is GREAT! I love them dancing for the handbags- perfect!
    You know a LOT of fairy tales are the same way- much darker than we were brought up to believe!

  2. ha ha ha! this is great how very clever!!!!!!!!!! Yes, nursery rhymes do seem a bit 'scary' for young children - great post! love your entry

  3. This is so clever and I love it. Plus love scary fairy tales..........lol xx

  4. I love the mulberry bush full of handbags! And your post is so fun and amusing and unfortunately true. I've often wondered about nursery rhymes and fairy tales being a bit more than PG rated when it comes to horror. One thing though...curds and whey is not realy sour milk but a term for cottage cheese. The spider...is enough to scare the bejesus out of me though.

  5. Oh dear me...how funny!! Quite clever, Lisa. Thanks for the smile/laugh today. Hugs

  6. Perfect!!! How very amusing, and I'm glad someone shed light on the reality behind nursery rhymes... quite gruesome.

  7. You made me laugh Linda!! the old woman who lived in a shoe! lol you are so right! scary!
    great post and so is your art!

  8. Oh Lisa you make me laugh - I love your witty posts! Fabulous unique entry for this week's IA challenge!

    Kat X

  9. Nothing like a bit of disguised reality for toddlers, perhaps they helped take the edge off the big scary world.
    Brilliant take on the Mulberry bush - it would be just my luck to be fifth in line!

  10. Hi Lisa..loved this post..yes it is errie how mnay fairy tales are quite scarey! Do you like Edward Gorey?

  11. Hi Lisa, you are too funny. I love this illustration. I know what you mean about how scary the fairy tales really are, but for some reason they never scared me as a child. Maybe I was just thick skinned.

  12. Yes, I did know those little untold truths about fairy tales...your re-caps are far more entertaining :)

  13. Yes my dear and if you think nursery rhymes are bad you should try the Brothers Grimm...it's a wonder we're not all afraid to come out of our houses. lol
    Thank you for a very funny and informative post...and a lovely piece of art to boot...well done!!!

  14. I, too, find nursery rhymes creepy- especially Ring around the Rosies! I've heard that that illness had a ring around the area of the sore= yuck! But I had heard the pocket full of posies was to ward off the odor..double yuck! So glad to be alive in this era....

  15. I LOLOLOL'ed at this post...especially Jack and poor Jill. Where do your ideas come from? A handbag tree...only in my dreams.

  16. Oh my!! I love your post! Cute shopping purses and my very fave!

    The old woman in the shoe~I loved this one as a child as well. I even had a carved wooden shoe just like the one in the story! Wonder where I put that...I'd sure love to share that!

    Thank you for the laughs! LOVE!!!

  17. Oh dear! Do I foresee a cat fight? I hope not!

  18. loved your entry! this is MY kind of mulberry tree :)


Thank you for your comments - I always love to hear what you think :)

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