Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Oranges and Lemons

We have been working on several nursery rhymes in our classes this semester, and one of them is Oranges and Lemons. It is an old English rhyme that refers to the various church bells around the London area. I found it quite interesting that one of the mothers in class (she's from England) knew more verses than the one we were using in class. She researched it at and sent me the original words as follows:

Oranges and Lemons Poem

"Oranges and lemons" say the Bells of St. Clement's

"You owe me five farthings" say the Bells of St. Martin's

"When will you pay me?" say the Bells of Old Bailey

"When I grow rich" say the Bells of Shoreditch

"When will that be?" say the Bells of Stepney

"I do not know" say the Great Bells of Bow

"Here comes a Candle to light you to Bed

Here comes a Chopper to Chop off your Head

Chip chop chip chop - the Last Man's Dead."

What really blew me away was the poem references to the public executions of debtors during the late 1700s. It's interesting that such a sinister sounding rhyme has survived, like so many others, to become a well beloved children's poem.

1 comment:

Sally-Ann said...

I grew-up with the morbid ending verse as well. My older kids are always eager to point out that most fairy tales, nursery rhymes, etc., come from a not so nice source. Their favorite? "Ring-around-a-rosy." Teenagers - a dose of reality!