Ahhh, the cosy childhood memory of Mother Goose, what could be more innocent? But where did Mother Goose come from and what darker societal secrets is she hiding?
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. 🛌🏻 Night 🌃 was the time of witches 🧙🏻♀️ faeries, and evil spirits. 👻 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. 🎂 But as any child who knows their fairytales 📜 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