Innocence Lost

Remember how when we were young, nursery rhymes were amongst the first fun things we learnt and recited almost all day long?

I am told that in some cultures, those fun verses were verbally passed down from one generation to another. Imagine their longevity, and “richness”!
But do you realize that most nursery rhymes are extremely violent in nature, with tales of death and suffering and tragic endings?!?!
Read on…

Jack and Jill

“Jack and Jill, Went up the hill, To fetch a pail of water.
Jack fell down, And broke his crown, And Jill came tumbling after”
Yes, that’s one of our first nursery rhymes that talks about so many issues.

Child labor – how can you send kids up a hill to fetch a pail of water? Where are their parents? Why didn’t they go to fetch water themselves?

Pain/Hurt – Jack fell down and “broke his crown” (which basically means severely injured his head – I suppose this can possibly be deadly).

For those who don’t know what follows- Soon afterwards, he goes home only to endure terrible pain when he “went to bed and bound his head with vinegar and brown paper”.
Oh, and that’s not all.  Jill gave an evil grin when she saw Jack’s silly paper plaster. Unfortunately, their mother saw this smirk and got really angry and whipped her quite soundly for the whole incident.
Tell me, ain’t that just cruel?!!?
So…it doesn’t end “happily” now does it?

Humpty Dumpty

“Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again!”

Humpty Dumpty – another famous nursery rhyme that unfortunately ends in tragedy. No one could put Humpty Dumpty together again. What good are the king’s men then I ask?






Rock-a-Bye Baby

“Rock a bye baby on the tree top,
When the wind blows the cradle will rock,
When the bough breaks the cradle will fall,
And down will come baby, cradle and all.”

Just who in the right mind would put a baby in a cradle and place it on a tree top!?
And obviously winds blow, strongly. And then down comes the baby with the cradle.
Imagine, these are the kind of lullabies we sing to infants. Deathly.



There was an Old Woman

“There was an old woman who lived in a shoe.
She had so many children, she didn’t know what to do.
She gave them some broth, Without any bread,
Whipped them all soundly, and sent them to bed.”

Look at what this rhyme highlights – Poverty, Population Explosion, Child Abuse.
First of all this old woman lives in a shoe, with “oh so many children” that she doesn’t know what to do with them. She doesn’t have enough bread for all of them. And after the meal she beats them to sleep. Not an ideal mom, are we now.


Speaking of child abuse, here’s another one:


Little Polly Flinders

Little Polly Flinders
Sat among the cinders,
Warming her pretty little toes.
Mother came and caught her,
And whipped her pretty daughter
For spoiling her nice new clothes.

Why wasn’t anyone watching poor little Polly in the first place? Who lets your kid sit in or near a fire? And then beating the kid because she ruined her clothes? Brilliant I say.



Goosey Goosey Gander

“Goosey goosey gander where shall I wander,
Upstairs, downstairs and in my lady’s chamber
There I met an old man who wouldn’t say his prayers,
I took him by the left leg and threw him down the stairs.”

So a child in here is wandering alone, why may I ask? He meets a man who wouldn’t say his prayers. So this little lad takes it on him to bring justice and swings the old man down the stairs by his left leg. He is inflicting death to the old man, just because he doesn’t want to pray. Who ever taught a child to do this? More importantly, why are we teaching our children this?



Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater

“Peter Peter pumpkin eater,
Had a wife and couldn’t keep her!
He put her in a pumpkin shell,
And there he kept her very well!”

So this pumpkin loving and pumpkin eater Peter had a wife, and seems like he couldn’t keep her. I’m sure he neglected her. Anyway, moving on. He stuffs her in a pumpkin shell to keep her. How? I’m sure she’s dead by now. He should’ve divorced her instead of keeping her hostage. At least, that wouldn’t be such bad a thing for kids to know.
Ladybird, Ladybird, Fly Away Home
“Ladybug ladybug fly away home,
Your house in on fire and your children are gone,
All except one and that’s little Ann,
For she crept under the frying pan.”

What rotten luck for the ladybug. Maybe while she was out at work, her house catches fire. He children all die. Except the one who crept under the frying pan. Third degree burns? I doubt Ann’s survival chances. And it’s never to late (or early) to learn about such horrid deaths, right?

Oh and yes,
Ring around the rosie,

Ring around the rosie,
Pocket full of posies,
Ashes, ashes
We all fall down!

This, I’m sure, you all know is based on the bubonic plague (Great Plague of London and Edinburgh).



Oh My Darling, Clementine

“Oh my darling, oh my darling,
My darling Clementine,
You are lost for me forever,
Dreadful sorry, Clementine.

Drove she ducklings to the water
Ev’ry morning just at nine,
Hit her foot against a splinter,
Fell into the foaming brine.

Ruby lips above the water,
Blowing bubbles soft and fine,
But alas, I was no swimmer,
Neither was my Clementine.

In a churchyard near the canyon,
Where the myrtle doth entwine,
There grow rosies and some posies,
Fertilized by Clementine.”


Need I say any more?!!?
Don’t even get me started on the Three Blind Mice, Solomon Grundy, Little Miss Muffet, Pop goes the Weasel, London Bridge.

Who says rhymes are innocent and cute and nice and lyrical?

(Post by Sanjana Kapoor.)


1 Comment

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One response to “Innocence Lost

  1. read this queerly INTERESTING piece !!!

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