Boys & Girls Come Out to Play

The old English 18th century nursery rhyme ‘Boys & Girls Come Out to Play’ ๐Ÿคพ๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ warns of the dangers of faeries luring children out of their beds. ๐Ÿงš๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ


Boys and girls come out to play,
The moon doth shine as bright as day;
Leave your supper, and leave your sleep,
And come with your playfellows into the street.
Come with a whoop, come with a call,
Come with goodwill โ€“ or not at all.
Up the ladder and down the wall,
A half-penny loaf will serve us all;
You find milk, and I’ll find flour,
And we’ll have a pudding in half an hour.

Now, it’s possible that children might sing such a rhyme to ask their playmates to come and join them outside, but there’s something slightly sinister about this jaunty ditty. ๐Ÿ˜ˆ

It’s far more likely that this rhyme is a warning against leaving the safety of your bed. ๐Ÿ›Œ๐Ÿป Night ๐ŸŒƒ was the time of witches ๐Ÿง™๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ faeries, and evil spirits. ๐Ÿ‘ป The moon๐ŸŒœ in particular was seen as intensifying their power and tempting forth even more dangerous creatures, like werewolves. ๐Ÿบ

The poem is a siren call to children to leave the safety of their homes and come out to play with their enticing magical playmates with the promise of a faerie pudding. ๐ŸŽ‚ But as any child who knows their fairytales ๐Ÿ“œ can tell you, faerie time passes at a completely different rate to normal time. โฐ One night spent playing with your new friends, and you could come home only to find that everyone you had known died of old age. โšฐ๏ธโ˜ ๏ธ Source: Jack Albert ‘Pop Goes the Weasel: The secret meanings of nursery rhymes’

Image: ‘Fairy Islands’ from the book Elves and Fairies, 1916, Ida Rentoul Outhwaite

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