Boys & Girls Come Out to Play

The old English 18th century nursery rhyme ‘Boys & Girls Come Out to Play’ πŸ€ΎπŸ»β€β™€οΈ warns of the dangers of faeries luring children out of their beds. πŸ§šπŸ»β€β™€οΈ

 

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 – 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. 😈

It’s far more likely that this rhyme is a warning against leaving the safety of your bed. πŸ›ŒπŸ» Night πŸŒƒ was the time of witches πŸ§™πŸ»β€β™€οΈ faeries, and evil spirits. πŸ‘» The moon🌜 in particular was seen as intensifying their power and tempting forth even more dangerous creatures, like werewolves. 🐺

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. πŸŽ‚ But as any child who knows their fairytales πŸ“œ can tell you, faerie time passes at a completely different rate to normal time. ⏰ 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. ⚰️☠️ 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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