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


My Playtime
Memory  Pages

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!


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


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


Ring around the 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!)


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


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 five 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 off your head.

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


The Farmer’s in the Dell,
The Farmer’s in the Dell,
Hey, ho, the dairy, O!
The Farmer’s in the Dell.
Who put him in ?
Who put him in?
Hey, ho the dairy, O!
Who put him in?
His wife put him in,
His wife put him in,
Hey, ho, the dairy, O!
His wife put him in.
Who pulled him out?
Who pulled him out?
Hey, ho, the dairy, O!
Who pulled him out?
The maid pulled him out!
The maid pulled him out!
Hey, ho, the dairy, O!
The maid pulled him out!
Who bit the maid?
Who bit the maid?
Hey, ho, the dairy, O!
Who bit the maid?
The dog bit the maid!
The dog bit the maid!
Hey, ho, the dairy, O!
The dog bit the maid!
The dog wants a bone!
The dog wants a bone!
Hey, ho, the dairy, O!
The dog wants a bone!
The bone wants a lick!
The bone wants a lick!
Hey, ho, the dairy, O!
The bone wants a lick!

(Another circle dancing and singing game.  This starts off with one child in the middle of the circle as the Farmer.  At each verse the last child in chooses another to form a smaller circle in the middle of the large circle.  At the last verse, the Bone is in the middle of the smaller circle and all the children try to, sorry about this, punch the Bone’s back.  Vicious little kids, weren’t we!)


Eeeny, meeny, minie, mo!
Catch the bairnie by the toe.
If he wriggles, let him go,
Eeny, meeny, minie, mo!
Up and down the City Road,
In and out the Eagle,
That’s the way the money goes,
Pop! Goes the weasel! 

Half a pound of tuppenny rice,
Half a pound of treacle,
Mix it up and make it nice,
Pop! Goes the weasel! 

Every night when I go out
The monkey’s on the table;
Take a stick and knock it off,
Pop! Goes the weasel! 


Miss Mary Mack, Mack, Mack,
All dressed in black, black, black,
With silver buttons, buttons, buttons,
All down her back, back, back.

She asked her mother, mother, mother,
For fifty cents, cents, cents,
To see the elephant, elephant, elephant.
Jump over the fence, fence, fence.
He jumped so high, high, high,
He reached the sky, sky, sky,
And he never came back, back, back,
‘Till the end of July, ‘ly, ‘ly.

 (A hand slapping game Xochitl and Adriana would play constantly.  They would
clap their own hands together, then cross their arms in front of their chest, clap their
own hands together again, then clap hands with each other three times.  I thought I could never forget this rhyme, they played it so often, but I had to look it up on the web to find the words – at Stephanie’s suggestion - because even Xoch and Nan couldn’t remember all the words!)


The good ship sails
Through the alley, alley, O!
The alley, alley, O!
The alley, alley, O!
The good ship sails
Through the alley, alley, O!
On a cold and frosty morning. 

The captain says,
“This will never, never do!
Never, never do!
Never, never do!”
The captain says,
“This will never, never do!”
On a cold and frosty morning.

(This was a singing and circle and line dancing game we played in our school playground and at parties in Scotland.  Singing the verses all the time and holding hands in a line, the last child would hold out her arm for the lead child to skip under her arm, which would make her twirl around, thus having the newest last child make another loop for the leader to take the line through until all the children had gone under an arm.  Finally, the leader would link up with the first child she skipped under and formed a circle and everyone would sing the song one last time, kicking legs into the circle.  As I’m writing this I’m thinking that the generations who read this later {I hope} may think, “Oh, this is one of Granma Bleh’s folk dances from Scotland.”  We just thought it was a game.)

The Germans sank the Lusitania!
The Lusitania!
The Lusitania!
The Germans sank the Lusitania
On a cold and frosty morning! 

The captain says,
“This will never, never do!
Never, never do!
Never, never do!”
The captain says,
“This will never, never do!”
On a cold and frosty morning.

(Old Granny from Scotland’s version, which shows you how old this game was when I played it – went back at least two World Wars.  Read your history about how this sinking brought the Americans into the First World War.)


Skinny Malinky Langlegs,
Umberella feet,
Went tae the pictures
And couldna find a seat.

(A cruel little rhyme we chanted to annoy other children – there are two more lines, but they are really, really rude!)


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 him 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

(One of my favourite poems from a Dundee childhood:  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.)


Oh, the bonny, bonny barry’s mine,
It doesna’ belang tae Caroline;
I climbed up a tree
An’ I skinned a’ my knee,
An’ I lost my hurl in the barrie!
(Old Granny from Scotland used to sing this
about herself – it went to the tune of “The
British Grenadiers – I think I once knew these words,
but no more! – Oh, just a thought a “barry” is a little
handcart barrow, and a “hurl” is a ride, not what the word
means in today’s TV land America.)


Oor wee Jeannie had a nice clean peenie –
Guess what colour it was?
R E D spells red (or any colour chosen)
And red (or the chosen colour) you must have on.
(A little skipping game my mother played –
“peenies” were little pinafores or aprons that
girls wore over their dresses to keep them clean)


Eetle, ottle, black bo’’le, (bottle)
Eetle, ottle oot.
If you want a piece an’ jam,
Just march right oot!

(A little selection verse that both my mother’s generation and mine played)


I keep three wishes ready,
Lest I should chance to meet,
Any day a fairy
Coming down the street 

I’d hate to have to stammer,
Or have to think them out,
For it’s very hard to think things up
When a fairy is about. 

And I’d hate to lose my wishes,
For fairies fly away,
And perhaps I’d never have a chance
On any other day. 

So, I keep three wishes ready,
Lest I should chance to meet,
Any day a fairy
Coming down the street.

Annette Wynne


Hey, this little kid gets roller skates.
She puts them on.
She stands up and almost
flops over backwards.
She sticks out a foot like
she’s going somewhere and
falls down and
smacks her hand.  She
grabs hold of a step to get up and
sticks out the other foot and
slides about six inches and
falls and
skins her knee. 

And then, you know what?

She brushes off the dirt and the
blood and puts some
spit on it and then
sticks out the other foot


Myra C. Livingston


Captain Hook must remember
Not to scratch his toes.
Captain Hook must watch out
And never pick his nose.
Captain Hook must be gentle
When he shakes your hand.
Captain Hook must be careful
Openin’ sardine cans
And playing tag and pouring tea
And turnin’ pages of his book.
Lots of folks I’m glain I ain’t –
But mostly Captain Hook!

Shel Silverstein
Where the Sidewalk Ends


And you, big rocket,
I watch how madly you fly
Into the smokey sky
With flaming tail; 

Catherine wheel,
I see how fiercely you spin
Round and round on your pin;
How I admire your circle of fire. 

Roman candle,
I watch how prettily you spark
Stars in the autumn dark
Falling like rain
To shoot up again. 

. . .And so until

The happy ending of the fun,
Fireworks over, bonfire done;
Must wait a year now to remember
Another fifth of November.

Leonard Clark

(This reminds me of bonfire night and the great fires glowing on Hill Street each Fifth of November night)

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