Nursery Rhymes Deconstructed: Sing a Song of Sixpence
|Image courtesy of www.social.entertainment.msn.com|
Check out the full rhyme (courtesy of Wikipedia):
- 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?
- The king was in his counting house
- Counting out his money;
- The queen was in the parlour,
- Eating bread and honey.
- The maid was in the garden,
- Hanging out the clothes;
- When down came a blackbird
- And pecked off her nose.
“When down came a blackbird and pecked off her nose“
Visions of a medieval washer-woman type with a gaping hole in her face where her nose was “pecked off” was all I could think of as a young, impressionable child. What did she look like without a nose? Was there a lot of blood on her clothing? Did she pass out from the loss of blood that resulted from her nose being taken by an errant group of angry birds? These were some of the questions that seriously went through my mind as a young child upon hearing this “harmless” tale. Talk about scary.
Oh, and is it any surprise that little Johnny and little Janie want to sleep in mommy and daddy’s bed after hearing this story? Yet they might well be sent to their own beds because they are big boys and girls (we tell them) and it’s only a story, after all.
It’s really surprising that there is not more talk about whether these stories do more harm than good, looking at them with a more critical, adult eye. Being a parent, I often wonder if I’m adding to my kids’ anxieties by my actions, and reading nursery rhymes is one of them.
So, to that end, I’ll ask these questions:
Do you feel that nursery rhymes such as “Sing a Song of Sixpence” are harmless or harmful to children? Do you read these types of evocative rhymes to your kids? Why or why not? What are your favorite or most DISliked nursery rhymes and why?
Here are The Wiggles singing “Sing a Song of Sixpence” in the spirit of this post (I find that the happy music accompanying the lyrics just makes it all the more creepier. But that’s just me).