Sunday, January 28, 2007


“Hey, diddle, diddle…the cat and the fiddle…and the cow jumped over the moon. The little dog laughed to see such sport...and the dish ran away with the spoon.”

That’s one of the oldest, and often misquoted, Mother Goose rhymes and I used it as the basis for this wall mural that I painted a few years back. It was a fun project and the parents of the yet-to-be-born baby were happy with their new nursery.

I, however, couldn’t get that silly rhyme out of my head. I would be working on something entirely different and it would come back to haunt me. What did it mean? Where had it come from and who was the imaginative person who wrote it? I kept thinking that if I were a foreigner just learning to speak English I would be completely baffled by that jingle.

I decided to do a little research and, bless the internet, I came up with some interesting ideas as to the origin of that rhyme. The one that seemed to be most plausible was from Wikipedia and I quote: “It is likely that this poem is a satire of a scandal during the time of Queen Elizabeth I. The cat is Elizabeth and the dog is Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, whom she once referred to as her ‘lap dog’. It is also speculated that the ‘dish’ is a server at the royal court, whereas the ‘spoon’ referred to the taste-tester.”

Interesting stuff...except where does the cow come in and why is it jumping over a moon? I guess I’ll go to my grave pondering these earth-shaking questions. I did, however, find a version of this poem that my animal-loving friends will relate to, so I will close with that:

“Hey, diddle, diddle, the cat did a piddle...all over the kitchen floor. The little dog laughed to see such a the cat did a little bit more.”


Anonymous Anonymous said...

We just watched much of The Virgin Queen on TV, but I'll take your word for it about the rhyme. Maybe the cow and the moon are simply nonsense to complete the verse?

6:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great poem at the
And very interesting info on that age old rhyme.
What a gorgeous painting you did! Can't get over your talent. I'm sure those parents were thrilled.
A side note: Ginnie, did you get my email the other day? I've misplaced your address and can't write you back now, as I simply clicked "reply". Just wanted to make sure you got it confirming for March 3.

7:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

HA! I love the newer version, Ginnie, and I love your mural!

1:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe you can find the answer to the cow/moon question in a book called The Annotated Mother Goose. You can probably locate the book in a used bookstore. :-)

1:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's an awfully nice way to welcome someone into the world. I guess I hadn't given the poem much thought although I do remember as a kid asking my mom what it really meant. Guess she wasn't too far off!

3:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've always loved it but never understood it. I don't get how the wikipedia possible interpetation came to be a rhyme for children.

Nice mural!

We used to jump rope to: Under and over the moon. My daddy lost his spoon. Pick it up. Pick it up. Under and over the moon.

8:27 PM  
Blogger Cazzie!!! said...

LOL, that is so cute. You know, today at Scienceworks, yes, I took my kids there again today, we discovered a music room they have there for the kids. It has a pianola and all sorts of other musical instraments. If you gaze up to the roof of that music room, there are gorgeous little lights that are supposed to reperesent the astronomy as we know it. Right there, was a shiny, shiny moon, and guess what they had jumpong over it??? A cow, LOL. My Mia began to swing the rhyme..although it was very cute and I was the proud mother hen, it certainly was not as funny as your rhyme there :) Uncanny isn't it?

11:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great mural Ginnie and I agree...isn't that just one of the weirdest nursery rhymes ever? The words really do roll off the tongue. It is really a lot of fun to recite but it does not stand alone. Hickory, Dickory Dock is just as strange. I think these must have been penned by someone who lived upstairs over a think? LOL

3:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to admit.. the second one makes a lot more sense. LOL



8:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your mural is absolutely smashing, Ginnie, wonderful work. You are very talented both in your art and your writing.

8:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That last bit was very cute, and so cat-like.

I loved the painting!

7:16 PM  

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