Nursery rhymes and absurd lyrics

Our son was exposed to the world of nursery rhymes when he was about 8 months or so through Infobells 3D Nursery Rhymes.  Once he started developing interest, it became a "carrot" to make him have his food or sit in a place.

As he started watching the rhymes (yes - this was a video CD and not just audio), we got to see them as well.  Some of them were familiar (like Twinkle Twinkle Little Star) and evokes memories of childhood days.  But there were others, which were quite unfamiliar.   The lyrics of some of them were surprisingly shocking.  Take Piggy on a railway for instance.   It goes...

Piggy on the Railway
Picking up stones;
Down came an engine,
And broke Piggy’s bones. ‘Ah !’ said Piggy,
“That’s not fair,”
“Oh !” said the engine driver,
“I don’t care !”

I can see so many things wrong with this rhyme.  For one, why on earth would a pig be interested in picking up stones and that too from a railway track?  Even if so, should it not be watching out for the train?   And then the engine comes down and breaks the bones of the pig.  Isn't that quite a gory thing to tell children?  It gets worse when the pig and the driver converse.  What is fair about the engine hitting the pig?  Can we walk on the railway track and tell the driver, "Hey, don't hit me.  It is not fair"?

Apparently, it is a popular rhyme.  Luckily I don't remember having heard it.  Seriously, do we want our children to start asking questions on this rhyme?

Look at another one - three blind mice. It runs like this

Three blind mice,
See how they run!
They all ran after a farmer's wife,
Who cut off their tails with a carving knife.
Did you ever see such a sight in your life,
As three blind mice?

Are we not mocking the way blind animals (or people) move around?  And to add insult to injury, the tails of the poor mice get cut as well.    Looks like this rhyme has some historical background, related to the bad blood between Protestants and Catholics.

I understand that schools today do not teach such rhymes.  I sincerely hope so.

In an inspired moment, we got Volume 2 of the nursery rhyme and this was no better.  I felt some of the  rhymes were more absurd than earlier.  Goosey goosey is one, which is really creepy.

Goosey Goosey Gander, whither shall I wander?
Upstairs and downstairs and in my Lady's chamber.
There I met an old man who wouldn't say his prayers,
So I took him by his left leg and threw him down the stairs

I can understand stressing the importance of prayers, but resorting to violence for non-believers. That is ridiculous!   This one again seems to have religious connotations (about persecution of Catholics)

To me, it looks like all that matters is lines rhyme - however absurd, incorrect or immoral it may be!  Sure, small children may not understand these.  There may be good rhymes as well.  But there is no denying that the "sellers" of such rhymes pay no attention to the quality or value that the rhymes bring to the table.  Also, nonsensical lyrics are not restricted to movies alone.


  1. Piggy on the railway is all about telling children that you shouldn't mess up with rules meant for safety and when you do a wrong thing you can't accuse others for their wrongdoing


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