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Charlotte Bleh’s Collection of Favourite  Nursery  Rhymes, Poems and Prose Book
Sticks & Snails


 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.

***
Fee! Fi! Fo! Fum!
I smell the blood of an Englishman!
Be he alive, Or be he dead,
I’ll grind his bones To make my bread!

***
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 more
For all that lady’s hire.

***
Cry, Baby, Cry!
Stick your finger in your eye
And go and tell your mother
That it wasn’t I!

***
Tell-tale-tit!
Your tongue shall be slit!
And all the dogs in the town
Will have a little bit!

***
Lucy Locket lost her pocket;
Kitty Fisher found it –
Not a penny was there in it,
Only ribbon round it.

***

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, Your Great Grandmother, would sell him our rags. She told me she sold them to the mill to be made into paper. I also remember a big rubbish bin at the foot of the stairs that we would put whatever leftover food we had in – and since my Granny cooked and shopped daily and was very thrifty there wasn’t much of those – for the pigman to feed as slops to his pigs.)

***
As I was going to sell my eggs,
I met a man with bandy legs;
Bandy legs and crooked toes,
I tripped up his heels
And he fell on his nose.
***
Remember, Remember,
The Fifth of November,
Gunpowder, treason and plot!
For I see no reason
Why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.

(This verse commemorates the attempt in the early 17th Century
by the Catholic Guy Fawkes to blow up the Houses of Parliament
and James VIth and Ist. He failed, got burned at the stake I think –
but 5th of November was “Bonfire Night” with bonfires burned
in the middle of the street amidst lots of sparks, heat and noise.
I wonder if Bonfire Night still goes on in Scotland?)

***
My mistress with a monster is in love.
Near to her close and consecrated bower,
While she was in her dull and sleeping hour,
A crew of patches, rude mechanicals,
That work for bread upon Athenian stalls,
Were met together to rehearse a play
Intended for great Theseus’ nuptial-day.
The shallowest thick-skin of that barren sort,
Who Pyramus presented, in their sport
Forsook his scene and enter’d in a brake:
When I did him at this advantage take,
An ass’s nole I fixed on his head:
Anon his Thisbe must be answered,
And forth my mimic comes. When they him spy,
As wild geese that the creeping fowler eye,
Or russet-pated choughs, many in sort,
Rising and cawing at the gun’s report,
Sever themselves and madly sweep the sky,
So, at his sight, away his fellows fly;
And, at our stamp, here o’er and o’er one falls,
He murder cries and help from Athens calls.
Their sense thus weak, lost with their fears thus strong,
Make senseless things begin to do them wrong,
For briers and thorns at their apparel snatch;
Some sleeves, some hats, from yielders all things catch.
I led them on in this distracted fear,
And left sweet Pyramus translated there:
When in that moment, so it came to pass,
Titania waked and straightway loved an ass.
William Shakespeare, A Midsummer-Night’s Dream

(Another competition piece of mine – I have a photo of me in one of
our photo albums posing beside the air raid shelter in Hill Street in
my Puck costume.)

***
When I am grown to man’s estate
I shall be very proud and great,
And tell the other girls and boys
Not to meddle with my toys.
Robert Louis Stevenson
A Child’s Garden of Verses
***
Ye’ve hurt your finger?
Puir wee man!
Yer pinkie? Dearie me!
No, juist ye haud it that wey ‘till
I get my specs and see!

My, so it is – and there’s the skelf!
Noo, dinna greet nae mair.
See there – my needle’s gotten’t oot!
I’m shair that wasna sair?

And, noo, to mak it hale the morn,
Put on a wee bit saw,
And tie a bonnie hankie roun’t,
Noo, there now – rin awa’!

Yer finger sair ana a’? Ye rogue,
Ye’re only lettin’ on.
Weel, weel, then, - see now, there ye are,
Rowed up the same as John!

(This was my friend Mary Snee’s party piece in Dundee:
amazing thing we had this young missionary from Canada
over one night for dinner, Elder Puddecombe, he was.
We started talking about Scotland, and he said his mother was from Dundee.
Turned out he was Mary’s son and that’s how I learned where she was!)

***
Inside everybody’s nose
There lives a sharp-toothed snail.
So if you stick your finger in,
He may bite off your nail.
Stick it farther up inside,
And he may bite your ring off.
Stick it all the way, and he
May bite the whole darn thing off.
Shell Silverstein Where the Sidewalk Ends

***
Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
And if I die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my toys to break,
So none of the other kids can use ‘em. . . .
Amen.
Shel Silverstein A Light in the Attic
(Isn’t this like the Stevenson poem?)

***
There’s too many kids in this tub.
There’s too many elbows to scrub.
I just washed a behind
That I’m sure wasn’t mine,
There’s too many kids in this tub.
Shel Silverstein A Light in the Attic

Someone ate the baby,
It’s rather sad to say.
Someone ate the baby
So she won’t be out to play.
We’ll never hear her whiney cry
Or have to feel if she is dry.
We’ll never hear her asking “Why?”
Someone ate the baby.

Someone ate the baby.
It’s absolutely clear
Someone ate the baby
‘Cause the baby isn’t here.
We’ll give away her toys and clothes.
We’ll never have to wipe her nose.
Dad says, “That’s the way it goes.”
Someone ate the baby.
.
Someone ate the baby.
What a frightful thing to eat!
Someone ate the baby
Though she wasn’t very sweet.
It was a heartless thing to do.
The policemen haven’t got a clue.
I simply can’t imagine who
Would go and (burp) eat the baby.
Shel Silverstein Where the Sidewalk Ends

***
What is the matter with Mary Jane?
She’s crying with all her might and main,
And she won’t eat her dinner – rice pudding again –
What is the matter with Mary Jane?

What is the matter with Mary Jane?
I’ve promised her dolls and a daisy-chain,
And a book about animals – all in vain –
What is the matter with Mary Jane?

What is the matter with Mary Jane?
She’s perfectly well, and she hasn’t a pain;
But, look at her, now she’s beginning again! –
What is the matter with Mary Jane?

What is the matter with Mary Jane?
I’ve promised her sweets and a ride in the train,
And I’ve begged her to stop for a bit and explain –
What is the matter with Mary Jane?

What is the matter with Mary Jane?
She’s perfectly well and she hasn’t a pain,
And it’s lovely rice pudding for dinner again! –
What is the matter with Mary Jane?
A. A. Milne

(This is for Xochitl – she loves rice pudding!)

***
And, now, a little spice from Scotland –

Here’s tae us!
Wha’s like us?

Damn Few,
And They’re A’ Deid!
(My mother’s Hogmanay Toast)

***

Ladies and gentlemen, we in Scotland are all aware of a popular impression existing among English people that the Scotsman is mean. The following little monologue will show, in rather a convincing manner, that the opposite is really the case, and that the people of Scotland are, in fact, most generous when it comes to big things. The words are spoken by a Scots farmer:

If ye come tae ma hoose, ye can tak a look roun’;
I’ll lend you what’s handy – If ye like!

Ye can borrow near all I’ve got,
Chickens, hens and my dog – a fair dandy – If you like!

Come ben to the kitchen. Ye can borrow the chairs –
Ye can borrow the rug at the fit o’ the stairs –
An’ the auld roon’ piano that plays ye Scotch airs – If ye like!

Ye’ll be sweared at the askin’ to borrow bawbees –
Ye can borrow a sax-pence – If you like!

And as for the food, you can borrow the meat –
Ye can borrow the slippers I’ve got at my feet.
I’ll lend you my claes, though they’re no verra neat – If you like!

But there’s a’e thing ye canna borrow,
No, not on your life!
Ye can borrow near all I’ve got.
Barrin’ the wife.

And ye’ll no borrow her –
But I’ll gi’e ye ma wife –
If you like!

***
For twenty lang years Jock Tamson had gane
To the wee bittie hoose at the end of the lane
Where dwalt Katie Dow and her sister Marie,
Baith plump and guid looking, baith heart whole and free.
But in spite o’ deep thocht he could never decide
On which o’ the twa he would like for a bride:
Whiles he’d think it was Kate was his dream and desire,
Then he’d swither and think he’d be best wi’ Maria.

But something got into his brain in the end,
And he wanted to hae his ain but and ben,
And he swore that ere morning he’d make his decision
That wouldna be subject to change or revision.
Putting on a clean shirt and his best Sunday claes
He strode out o’ the door wi’ resolve on his face.
And wha should he meet but the buxom Miss Kate,
While his heart gave a loup at this answer frae fate.

Screwing up a’ the courage placed at his disposal
He made the bit lassie a handsome proposal.
She gave a wee start o’ surprise at the shock,
Smiled coyly and murmured, “It’s gey sudden, Jock.
Still I think it would satisfy local convention
If ye ca’d at the Manse and announced your intention.
While I hurry hame, brak the news to Marie,
And decide on the date o’er a strang cup o’ tea.”

Jock lay tossing and sleepless in bed throught the nicht
While he questioned his conscience if he had done richt.
Further thochts o’ Marie were a breach of guid faith,
Still it seemed a great peety he couldnae hae baith.
So, he rose in the morning frae bed undecided,
Though his word had been gi’en his heart still was divided.
For it seemed that to ruin a union was heading
Where the bride micht no’ be the “best maid” at the wedding.

Back he trudged tae the Manse for a short interview
And advice from the Parson on what he should do.
And he heard wi’ relief, though the banns had been cried,
It still didna’ mean he was finally tied.
If he thocht Marie would be better than Kate
New banns could be cried – it still wisna’ too late.
Of course tae renew them would mean a new fee --
“In that case,” said Jock, “We’ll just let things be.”
Let Things Be (Another popular performance piece)

***
Auld Dougal MacDougall spent maist o’ his life
In a tiny wee cot wi a terrible wife.
If she’d lived long ago they’d hae caud her a “scold”
And they kent hoo tae deal with these bodies I’m told.
Wi’ a ring round their necks they were chained to a wa’,
Or ducked in a pond wi’ their claes on an’ a’.
“Thae auld fashioned customs,” auld Dougal would say,
“It’s a peety they’re no’ in existence the day.”
For, oh, what a harridan, oh, what a shrew!
Puir guid natured Dougal, he had his hands fu’.
She used tae throw things at his heid in a fit,
But he ken’t hoo tae duck, so he seldom got hit.
Ae mornin’ at breakfast she started a screed;
She nagged and she nagged till he wished she was deid.
He could thole it nae longer, tho’ gamely he tried,
So he picked up his parritch, and supped it outside.

He was suppin’ awa’ as if little he cared,
When wha’ should pass by, but his Lordship, the Laird.
“Mon, Dougal,” he said, “for a sensible cheil,
That’s a funny like wey to be takin’ yer meal.
Would you no’ tak it better inside o’ the hoose?”
And Dougal tried hard to invent an excuse.
“It’s ma lum, it’s aye reekin’,” at last he replied,
“And that’s why I’m suppin’ my parritch outside.”
“Dear, dear,” said his Lorship, “But that’ll no dae,
We maun hae it sorted wi’ little delay.”
He opened the door as if further tae speir,
When a big muckle rolling pin whizzed past his ear.
The Laird closed the door, and gi’ed Dougall his hand.
“My auld freend,” he murmured, “I quite understand.
My deepest felt sympathy goos oot tae you.
I ken what it is – I’ve a reekin’ lum, too!”
The Reekin Lum (A fun performance pience for me as I made fun
of people and circumstances and used three voices for the parts)


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