Saturday, July 16, 2011


“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 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.”


Blogger KGMom said...

Ginnie--interesting how nursery rhymes insinuate themselves into our minds.
I thought it would be an interesting study to see if there is a correlation between children developing language skills and the amount they have been exposed to nursery rhymes.

6:00 PM  
Blogger Anvilcloud said...

But ... wouldn't the dog be more likely to piddle than the cat? :)

6:11 PM  
Blogger Diana said...

Oh Ginnie that last one was too much!!! Your mural is just beautiful. And I think I'd be wondering the same thing about the origin of the verse.
Very interesting information, I had no idea! Love Di ♥

7:03 PM  
Blogger Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hi Ginnie,

Very hilarious post. I enjoyed it. Lovely painting. You are very talented.

One of my favorite nursery rhyme is TWINKLE TWINKLE LITTLE STAR.

Have a lovely Sunday,

8:17 AM  
Blogger Chancy said...

I sometimes get song lyrics in my brain. Usually from the 1940's or so.

That era had some great songs, "There'll Be Bluebirds Over The White Cliffs of Dover" " We'll Meet Again" etc etc.

9:45 AM  
Blogger kenju said...

Oh, I love both versions of that one!!And your mural is charming.

4:42 PM  
Anonymous schmidleysscribblins, said...

Sometimes, I think people make things up on Wikipedia. Most of the old nursery rhymes are older than Queen Elizabeth I. For example, "Ring around the Rosie" pertains to the Black Death.

On the other hand, "Rock-a-Bye Baby" probably dates to the Paleolithic or before when folks really did live in tree tops (we think).

I love your mural. That moon is the most benign I have seen, and the cow is downright lovely. Dianne

11:38 AM  
Blogger Syd said...

Interesting about that nursery rhyme. Now I can't get it out of my head either. Beautiful mural you did though.

12:31 PM  
Blogger Caddie said...

Your version is best. It made me giggle...a lot!

Oh my, you are truly an artist. Beautiful mural, Ginnie.

6:37 PM  
Blogger possum said...

Love your mural!
Someone wrote a whole book on the possible origins and meanings of many of our old nursery rhymes, who Wee Willie Winkie was and the significance of the pockets full of rosies. Many of them were politically motivated, some religiously rebellious. Funny how we "sang" or recited them as kids playing our games so many years later.
Cool post!

11:56 AM  
Blogger Beatrice P. Boyd said...

Isn't it fun how we start thinking about something and then go off on internet searched for more info. And the things one can learn in cyberspace these days.

5:06 PM  

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