After reading David’s post about his experience with “All Around the Mulberry Bush” I feel inclined to comment on children’s songs.
Both songs I’m thinking about are ones that my parents sang to my brothers and me. When I have brought them up in conversation with other adults, they do not know them, though I have found some obscure references in various books.
We went to the animal fair/The birds and the beasts were there/By the light of the moon/The old racoon/Was combing his long gray hair/The monkey he got drunk/And sat on the elephant’s trunk/The elephant sneezed/And fell to his knees/And that was the end of the monk/The monk, the monk, the monk
In singing this song to my own children, it strikes me as odd that we sing a song about monkey’s getting drunk, elephant’s sneezing, and monkey’s being killed. Disturbing thoughts. I’m sure there is some meaning behind it. I’ll have to go look for it.
The second song is more of a poem, though to my young ears, it sounded musical. And no one I have ever spoken to has heard it before.
“To bed to bed,” said Sleepyhead/”Let’s wait awhile,” said Slow/”Put on the pot,” said Greedygut, “we’ll eat before we go!”
This poem/song was recited each night on our way to bed. As we got a little older, my brothers and I each took a line. I was Sleepyhead, my middle brother was Slow and my youngest brother was Greedygut. For a long time I just assumed that we said them in the order of our birth. Now that I am older and looking back, I think each of those personas were appropriate for us. I was (and still am) a sleepyhead, my middle brother is the slowest person I know, and my youngest brother can out eat anyone I know. I once asked my mom where it came from and she said that her grandmother taught it to her. Maybe I’ll have to look for that too.