Mercenary Rhymes 5

Wednesday 18th January 2012

ORAL traditions are a thing of the past.

Iona and Peter Opie collected over 500 items for their excellent Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes, first published in 1951, when I was still in swaddling clothes. Only about three dozen remain widely known.

Here are a final five versions for modern times, written several years ago. The Hand tab above has links to selections 1-4.

Hickory, dickory, dock
Hickory, dickory, dock:
Our lives are run by the clock;
It runs us round,
It runs us down,
Makes us jittery when it stops.

Wee Willie Winkie
Wee Willie Winkie
Jogs through the town
In his shorts and t-shirt
He jogs up and down;
An hour every evening
In all kinds of weather;
“If I keep this up,” he says,
“I just might live forever.”

Little Bo-Peep
Little Bo-Peep has lost her job
And no-one knows where to find her;
The street’s her home and all she owns
Is in sad plastic bags dragged behind her.

Doctor Foster went to Gloucester
Doctor Foster went to Gloucester
In a shower of rain
And everyone knows
How the story goes
That he never went there again,

But to some it’s a muddle
How he stepped in a puddle
Right up to his middle
It’s a bit of a riddle;
So let me explain…

After eating well
At the New Inn hotel,
The rain having stopped
He decided to pop
Out for walk by the river;

And then catching sight,
In a shaft of moonlight,
Of the lovely cathedral,
Not being cerebral,
It sent up his spine a quick shiver;

Stepping back to admire
The steepling spire,
He put his foot in some water –
Only an inch, maybe shorter –
A small puddle left by the rain;

When suddenly came a gushing,
A rising and rushing,
Water up to his waist,
He was carried off in haste
And Doctor Foster was never seen again.

He may have been staying
In a three star hotel,
But what bore him to heaven
(Or to hell, I can’t tell)
Was a four star bore
Of the Severn.

For want of a nail
For want of a nail
The banner was lost
For want of a banner
The march was lost
For want of a march
The campaign was lost
For want of a campaign
The protest was lost
For want of protest
Freedom was lost

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