Sing a Song of Sixpence
Nursery Rhyme from Mother Goose


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Sing a Song of Sixpence: from Boys and Girls Bookshelf: a Practical Plan of Character Building, Volume I (of 17). Illustrator Harold Sichel. Color added.

Sing a Song of Sixpence nursery rhyme

First appearance in print: 1744

Fact: in the 16th century it was considered amusing to bake live birds into a pie so they would fly out when the pie was cut open. (I'm not sure how amusing the birds thought it was!)

Vocabulary

  • sixpence, a British coin
  • counting house, accounting office
  • rye, a grain

Sing a Song of Sixpence

Sing a song of sixpence,
A pocket full of rye;
Four-and-twenty blackbirds
Baked in a pie!

When the pie was opened
The birds began to sing;
Was not that a dainty dish
To set before the king?

The king was in his counting-house,
Counting out his money;
The queen was in the parlor,
Eating bread and honey.

The maid was in the garden,
Hanging out the clothes;
When down came a blackbird
And snapped off her nose.


A Sing a Song of Sixpence story

In 1892, author Mary Holdsworth published a story that gave context to the Mother Goose nursery rhyme. Published in Great Britain, it featured a little girl, Nellie, struggling in school, but with sixpence burning a hole in her pocket.

Nellie speaks with the Queen, whose head resides on her precious coin, in an exchange that turns out to have been a dream.

It's a humorous little story; it also features the "N" word and has no redeeming reason for doing so. For that reason I won't be sharing it with you here.

Sad.

Sing a Song of Sixpence, the nursery rhyme, appears in Blanche Fisher Wright's classic The Real Mother Goose collection.

More Mother Goose nursery rhymes.

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