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Charlotte Bleh's Nursery Rhyme and Memory Book
Nursery Rhymes


Times and Rhymes for Playtime

I’ll sing you a song
Though not very long,
But I think it as pretty as any –
Put your hand in your purse,
You couldn’t do worse -
And give the poor singer a penny!


A ring, a ring, of rosies,
A pocket full of posies:
A’tcho, A’tchoo,
We all fall down.

(My children delight in pointing out that this nursery rhyme refers to the Black Plague during London’s Middle Ages when the population was decimated, houses where people had the Plague were marked with big red X quarantine marks, and carters roamed the streets calling, “Bring out your dead,” for burial in mass graves!)


Hark! Hark! The dogs do bark!
The beggars are coming t town.
Some in rags, and some in tags –
And one in a velvet gown.


Georgie Peorgie, Pudding and Pie,
Kissed the girls, and made them cry!
When the boys came out to play,
Georgie Peorgie ran away.


As Tommy Snooks and Bessy Brooks
Were walking out one Sunday,
Said Tommy Snooks to Bessy Brooks,
“Tomorrow will be Monday!”


I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me,
And what can be the use of him is more than I can see.
He is very, very like me from the heels up to the head;
And I see him jump before me when I jump into my bed.

The funniest thing about his is the way he likes to grow –
Not at all like proper children, which is always very slow;
For he sometimes shoots up taller like an India-rubber ball,
And he sometimes gets so little that there’s none of him at all. 

He hasn’t got a notion of how children ought to play,
And can only make a fool of me in every sort of way.
He stays so close beside me, he’s a coward you can see;
I’d think shame to stick to nursie as that shadow sticks to me!

One morning, very early, before the sun was up,
I rose and found the shining dew on every butter-cup;
But my lazy little shadow, like an arrant sleepy-head,
Had stayed at home behind me and was fast asleep in bed.

Robert Louise Stevenson
A Child’s Garden of Verse

(The best thing about taking some of my children and grandchildren to Scotland to bury their Grandmother’s ashes, was being able to show them the house in Edinburgh where Robert Louis Stevenson lived as a child.)


Gay go up and gay go down,
To ring the bells of London Town. 

Bull’s eyes and targets,
Say the bells of St. Margaret’s. 

Brickbats and tiles,
Say the bells of St. Giles. 

Oranges and lemons,
Say the bells of St. Clement’s 

Pancakes and fritters,
Say the bells of St. Peter’s 

Sago sticks and an apple,
Say the bells at Whitechapel. 

Old Father Baldpate,
Say the slow bells of Aldgate. 

Pokers and tongs,
Say the bells of St. John’s. 

Kettles and pans,
Say the bells of St. Anne’s. 

You owe me ten farthings,
Say the bells of St. Martin’s.

When will you pay me?
Ask the bells of Old Bailey. 

When I grown rich,
Say the bells of Shoreditch. 

And when will that be?
Say the bells of Stepney. 

I’m sure I don’t know,
Says the great bell at Bow.

(You may not know this, but these verses are sung to the tune of the bells of the London churches named in the rhyme.  My mother knew every one of them.)


Here comes a candle to light you to bed,
And here comes a chopper to chop of your head.

(The chopper is the little candle snuffer – in my day, it wasn’t politacaly incorrect to scare your kids to sleep with nursery rhymes and fairy tales that were aptly named “Grimm.”)


Times and Rhymes for Babies and Other Little Ones


Rock-a-bye, Baby,
Thy cradle is green.
Thy Father’s a nobleman,
Thy Mother’s a queen;
And Baby’s a lady,
And wears a gold ring;
And Brother’s a drummer,
And drums for the King.


Hush-a-bye, Baby,
Daddy is near;
Your Mammy’s a lady,
And that’s very clear.


Bye, Baby Bunting,
Daddy’s gone a-hunting
To find a little rabbit skin,
To wrap our Baby Bunting in.


Broo, broo, brinkie;
E’e, e’e, winkie;
Mooth, mooth, merry;
Cheek, cheek, cherry;
Chin-chopper, chin-chopper.
Brow, brow, brinkie;
Eye, eye, winkie;
Mouth, mouth, merry;
Cheek, cheek, Cherry;
Chin-chopper, chin-chopper.

(A tickling finger-game from Dundee, Scotland)


A diddlum, a diddlum, a diddlum, a do;
A diddlum, a diddlum, a diddlum, a do.
A diddlum, a diddlum, a diddlum, a do-
Hi, bonnie bairnie, I love you!

(I was dandled to this tine on my Granny’s knee, and safely bounced high on the last line – and have dandled and bounced all my grandchildren likewise)


Chap at the door!
Keek in!
Lift the sneck,
And walk in!
Knock on the door!
Look in!
Lift the latch,
And walk in!

(Another tickling finger game from Dundee, Scotland)


Wynken, Blynken, and Nod one night
Sailed off in a wooden shoe –
Sailed on a river of crystal light
Into a sea of dew.
“Where are you going, and what do you wish?”
The old moon asked the three.
“We have come to fish for the herring-fish
That live in this beautiful sea;
Nets of silver and gold have we,”
Said Wynken, Blynken, and Nod.

The old moon laughed and sang a song,
As they rocked in the wooden shoe;
And the wind that sped them all night long
Ruffled the waves of dew;
The little stars were the herring-fish
That lived in the beautiful sea:
“Now cast your nets wherever you wish.”
“Never afeard are we!”
So cried the stars to the fishermen three,
Wynken, Blynken, and Nod.

All night long their nets they threw
To the stars in the twinkling foam --
Then down from the skies came the wooden shoe,
Bringing the fishermen home:
‘Twas all so pretty a sail, it seemed
As if it could not be;
And some folk thought it was a dream they’d dreamed
Of sailing that beautiful sea;
But I shall name you the fishermen three:
Wynken, Blynken, and Nod.

Wynken and Blynken are two little eyes,
And Nod is a little head,
And the wooden shoe that sailed the skies
Is a wee one’s trundle-bed;
So shut your eyes while Mother sings
Of wonderful sights that be,
And you shall see the beautiful things
As you rock on the misty sea
Where the old shoe rocked the fishermen three –
Wynken, Blynken, and Nod.
Eugene Field

(This is the lullaby poem that my mother, Old Granny from Scotland, taught me to love.)


Times and Rhymes for Sugar and Spice


The fair maid who, on the First of May,
Goes to the fields at break of day
And washes in dew from the hawthorn tree,
Will from then on fair and loveley be.

(Old Granny from Scotland firmly believed in this – she said she didn’t really consider herself lovely, but she did agree she had a lovely fair complexion!)


Elisabeth, Elspeth, Betsy and Bess,
They all went together to find a bird’s nest.
They found the bird’s nest with five eggs in,
They all took one, and left four in.


Here’s Sulky Sue –
What shall we do?
Turn her face to the wall,
Until she comes to.


Little missy, pretty missy,
Blessings light upon you!
If I had half a crown a day,
I’d spend it all upon you!


Good morning, Baby Sunshine!
How could you wake so soon?
You scared away the stars that play,
And shined away the moon!

(This is a song I woke my children from their naps to – always seemed to put them in a sweet mood.)


There was a little girl who had a little curl
Right in the middle of her forehead;
And when she was good she was very, very good,
But when she was bad, she was horrid!

(My husband, John, had a different comment on how the little girl was when she was bad!)


Little BoPeep has lost her sheep,
And doesn’t know where to find them.
Leave them alone, and they’ll come home
Wagging their tails behind them.

Little Bo Peep fell fast asleep
And dreamed she heard them bleating;
But when she awoke, it was only a joke,
For they were still all fleeting.

Then up she took her little crook
Determined for sure to find them;
She found them indeed, but it made her heart weep
For they’d left their tails behind them. 

It happened one day, as BoPeep did stray
Into a meadow close by,
There she spied all their tails side by side
And hung on a tree to dry.

She heaved a sigh, and wiped her eye,
And over the hillocks went rambling.
And tried what she could as a shepherdess should,
To tie each again to its lambkin.


Times and Rhymes for The Joys of Boys


Tweedledum and Tweedledee
Resolved to have a battle,
For Tweedledum said Tweedledee
Had spoiled his new rattle.


Just then flew by a monstrous crow,
As big as a tar barrel,
Which frightened both these heroes so,
They quite forgot their quarrel


Solomon Grundy
Was born on a Monday;
Christened on Tuesday;
Married on Wednesday;
Took ill on Thursday;
Got worse on Friday;
Died on Saturday;
Was buried on Sunday –
And that was the end
Of Solomon Grundy.


What are little boys made of, made of,
Made of?
What are little boys made of?
“Sticks and snails, and puppy dogs tails,
That’s what little boys are made of!”


Tell me a story aboot Johnny Norrie,
Tell me a story,
Afore I gang tae bed …

Now, tell me anither,
Aboot his big brither,
And then I’ll gang tae bed …

(This was a little song from Dundee I’d sing at bedtime to the children.)


Times and Rhymes for Home and Family


Hickory, dickory dock
The mouse ran up the clock
The clock struck one,
And down he run,
Hickory, dickory dock.


Jack and Jill went up the hill
To fetch a pail of water;
Jack fell down and broke his crown,
And Jill came tumbling after.

Up got Jack and home did trot,
As fast as he could caper,
To old Dame Dob, who patched his nob
With vinegar and brown paper.


How many miles to Babylon?
Three score miles and ten.
Can I get there by candle-light?

Yes and back again,
If your heels are nimble and light,
You may get there by candle-light.


Lady Bird, Lady Bird,
Fly away home!
Your house is on fire,
And your children are gone!
All except one,
And her name is Nan,
And she has crept under the warming pan!


Bessie Bell and Mary Gray
They were twa bonny lassies;
They built their house upon the lea,
And covered it with rashies.

Bessie kept the garden gate,
And Mary kept the pantry;
Bessie always had to wait,
While Mary lived in plenty.

(Another Scottish rhyme)


There was a crooked man,
and he walked a crooked mile.
He found a crooked sixpence
against a crooked stile;
He bought a crooked cat,
=which caught a crooked mouse,
And they all lived together
in a little crooked house.

(I learned this from my Granny, Charlotte Beat McIntosh)


How many miles to Babylon?
Three score miles and ten.
Can I get there by candle-light?

Yes and back again,
If your heels are nimble and light,
You may get there by candle-light.


Wee Willie Winkie rins through the toon,
Upstairs and doonstairs in his nichtgoon.
Chappin’ at the windaes,
Peerin’ through the locks –
“Are a’ the bairnies in their beds?
It’s past eight o’clock!”

(This is the most famous of all the Scottish nursery rhymes – and we used it to get the children off to bed.)


There was an old woman
who lived in a shoe,
And had so many children
she didn’t know what to do –

(Johnny, Tina, Stephanie, Elisabeth, Alys, Xochitl and Adriana, too)

So she gave them some soup
without any bread,
And kissed them all soundly,
and sent them to bed.

(Spanking them seems a little harsh these days, don’t you think?)


Oh, dear, what can the matter be?
Oh, dear, what can the matter be?
Oh, dear, what can the matter be?
Johnny’s so long at the fair.

He promised he’d buy me a fairing should please me,
And then for a kiss, oh, he vowed he would tease me.
He promised he’d bring me a bunch of blue ribbons
To tie up my bonny brown hair.

He promised he’d bring me a basket of posies.
A garland of lilies, a garland of roses –
A little straw hat to set off the blue ribbons
That tie up my bonnie brown hair.


Oh, where have you been, Billy Boy, Billy Boy?
Oh, where have you been, Charming Billy?
I have been to seek a wife,
She’s the joy of my life –
She’s a young thing and cannot leave her mother.

Can she bake a cherry pie, Billy Boy, Billy Boy?
Can she bake a cherry pie, Charming Billy?
She can bake a cherry pie
Quick as the cat can wink its eye.
She’s a young thing and cannot leave her mother.

How old is she now, Billy Boy, Billy Boy?
How old is she now, Charming Billy?
Four time six and eight times seven,
Forty-nine and then eleven,
She’s a young thing and cannot leave her mother.


This is the house that Jack built.

This is the malt that lay in the house that Jack built.

This is the rat that ate the malt that lay in the house that Jack built.

This is the cat that killed the rat
That ate the malt that lay in the house that Jack built.

This is the dog that worried the cat that killed the rat
That ate the malt that lay in the house that Jack built.

This is the cow with the crumpled horn
That tossed the dog that worried the cat that killed the rat
That ate the malt that lay in the house that Jack built.

This is the maiden all forlorn
That milked the cow with the crumpled horn that tossed the dog
That worried the cat that killed the rat
That ate the malt that lay in the house that Jack built.

This the man all tattered and torn
That kissed the maiden all forlorn that milked the cow with the crumpled horn
That tossed the dog that worried the cat that killed the rat
That ate the malt that lay in the house that Jack built.

This is the priest all shaven and shorn
That married the man all tattered and torn that kissed the maiden all forlorn
That milked the cow with the crumpled horn that tossed the dog
That worried the cat that killed the rat
That ate the malt that lay in the house that Jack built.

This is the cock that crowed in the morn
That waked the priest all shaven and shorn
That married the man all tattered and torn that kissed the maiden all forlorn
That milked the cow with the crumpled horn
That tossed the dog that worried the cat that killed the rat
That ate the malt that lay in the house that Jack built.

This is the farmer sowing his corn
That kept the cock that crowed in the morn
That waked the priest all shaven and shorn
That married the man all tattered and torn that kissed the maiden all forlorn,
That milked the cow with the crumpled horn
That tossed the dog that worried the cat that killed the rat
That ate the malt that lay in the house that Jack built.


Times and Rhymes for Sticks and Snails


Old Mother Hubbard
Went to the cupboard,
To get her poor Dog a bone,
But when she got there,
The cupboard was bare,
And so the poor Dog had none.

She went to the baker’s
To buy him some bread,
But when she came back
The poor Dog was dead. 

She went to the joiner’s
To buy him a coffin,
But when she came back
The poor Dog was laughing.

She took a clean dish
To get him some tripe,
But when she came back
He was smoking a pipe.

She went to the fishmonger’s
To buy him some fish,
But when she came back
He was licking the dish.

She went to the alehouse
To get him some beer,
But when she came back
The Dog sat in a chair.

She went to the tavern
For white wine and red,
But when she came back
The Dog stood on his head.

She went to the hatter’s
To buy him a hat,
But when she came back
He was feeding the cat.

She went to the barber’s
To buy him a wig;
But when she came back
He was dancing a jig.

She went to the greengrocer’s
To buy him some fruit,
But when she came back
He was playing the flute.

She went to the tailor’s
To buy him a coat,
But when she came back
He was riding a goat.

She went to the cobbler’s
To buy him shoes,
But when she came back
He was reading the news.

She went to the --------
To buy him some --------
But when she came back -------
He was ---------

(Now, make up your own Old Mother Hubbard rhymes)

She went to the slater’s
To buy him some tiles,
But when she came back,
He was gone for miles. 

She went to the --------
To buy him some --------
But when she came back -------
He was ---------


I had a little dog.
They called him Buff.
I sent him to a shop to buy me snuff.
But he lost the bag and spilt the stuff;
I sent him no more but gave him a cuff,
For coming from the shop without my snuff.


I had a little pony,
His name was Dapple Gray.
I lent him to a lady
To ride a mile away;
She kicked him!
She whipped him!
She rode him through the mire –
I’ll never lend my pony again
For all that lady’s hire.


Old chairs to mend!
Old chairs to mend!
I never would cry old chairs to mend,
If I’d as much money as I could spend,
I never would cry old chairs to mend.

Old clothes to sell! 
Old clothes to sell!
I never would cry old clothes to sell,
If I’d as much money as I could tell,
I never would cry old clothes to sell.

(I remember as a little girl the Ragman coming round our close in our tenement, crying out “Any old rags?”  My granny would sell him our rags.  She told me she sold them to the mill to be made into paper.)


Times and Rhymes for School Days Learning


Multiplication is vexation,
Division is just as bad:
The Rule of Three perplexes me,
And practice drives me mad!


One, two
Buckle my shoe.
Three, four,
Knock at the door!
Five six,
Pick up sticks.
Seven, eight,
Lay them straight!
Nine, ten,
A big, fat hen.
Eleven, twelve,
Dig and delve!
Thirteen, fourteen,
Maids a-courting:
Fifteen, sixteen,
Maids in the kitchen.
Seventeen, eighteen,
Maids in waiting:
Nineteen, twenty,
My plate’s empty!


If you sneeze on Monday, you sneeze for danger;
Sneeze on a Tuesday, kiss a stranger;
Sneeze on a Wednesday, sneeze for a letter;
Sneeze on a Thursday, something better;
Sneeze on a Friday, sneeze for sorrow,
Sneeze on a Saturday, see your sweetheart tomorrow.

(In our primary school days, when we sneezed in succession, we’d say, “One’s a wish, two’s a kiss, three’s a letter, four’s something better, five for sorrow, six see your sweetheart tomorrow.)


Mary had a little lamb,
It’s fleece was white as snow,
And everywhere that Mary went,
The lamb was sure to go.

It followed her to school one day,
Which was against the rule;
It made the children laugh and play
To see a lamb at school.

And so the teacher put it out,
But still it waited near;
And waited patiently about
‘Til Mary did appear.

“Why does the lamb love Mary so?”
The happy children cry:
“Why Mary loves the lamb you know,”
Was the teacher’s glad reply.


Here we go round the mulberry bush,
The mulberry bush, the mulberry bush.
Here we go round the mulberry bush
On a cold and frosty morning.

This is the way we wash our hands, wash our hands,
Wash our hands.
This is the way we wash our hands
On a cold and frosty morning.

This is the way we wash our clothes, wash our clothes,
Wash our clothes.
This is the way we wash our clothes
On a cold and frosty morning.

This is the way we go to school, go to school,
Go to school.
This is the way we go to school
On a cold and frosty morning.

The is the may we run out of school, run out of school,
Run out of school.
This is the way we run out of school,
On a cold and frosty morning.


A was an apple pie –
B bit it,
C cut it,
D dealt it,
E ate it,
F fought for it,
G got it,
H had it,
I inspected it,
J jumped for it,
K kept it,
L longed for it,
M mourned for it,
N nodded at it,
O opened it,
P peeped in it,
Q quartered it,
R ran for it,
S stole it,
T took it,
U upset it,
V viewed it,
W wanted it,
X, Y, Z and Ampersand (&)
All wished for a piece in hand.


Knick, knack, paddy wack,  Give the dog a bone,
This old man came rolling home.
This old man, he played one,
He played knick knack on my drum -- 
With a knick, knack, paddy wack,
Give the dog a bone,  This old man came rolling home.

This old man, he played two,
He played knick knack on my shoe –
 With a knick, knack, paddy wack,
Give the dog a bone,  This old man came rolling home.

This old man, he played three,
He played knick knack on my tree -- 
With a knick, knack, paddy wack,
Give the dog a bone,  This old man came rolling home.

This old man, he played four --
He played knick knack on my door –
With a knick, knack, paddy wack,
Give the dog a bone,  This old man came rolling home.

This old man, he played five,
He played knick knack on my hive -- 
With a knick, knack, paddy wack,
Give the dog a bone,  This old man came rolling home.

This old man, he played six,
He played knick knack on some sticks -- 
With a knick, knack, paddy wack,
Give the dog a bone,  This old man came rolling home.

This old man, he played seven,
He played knick knack up in heaven –
 With a knick, knack, paddy wack,
Give the dog a bone,  This old man came rolling home.

This old man, he played eight,
He played knick knack on my gate -- 
With a knick, knack, paddy wack,
Give the dog a bone,  This old man came rolling home.

This old man, he played nine,
He played knick knack all the time -- 
With a knick, knack, paddy wack,
Give the dog a bone,  This old man came rolling home.

This old man, he played ten,
He played knick knack all over again -- 
With a knick, knack, paddy wack,
Give the dog a bone,  This old man came rolling home.

(Rent the move, “The Inn of the Sixth Happiness” the true story of Gladys Aylward – one of my childhood heroes, and I was able to meet her when I was about 14 or so, starring Ingrid Bergman, and you will hear this song.)


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