September 28, 2007

Poetry Friday: Rhyming Nonsense

Traditional Children's "Counting Out" rhymes.

Inter mitzy titzy tool
ira dira dominu
oker poker dominoker
out goes you

Intery mintery cutery corn
apple seed and briar thorn
wire briar limber lock
five geese in a flock
sit and sing by a spring
O U T and in again

When I went up the apple tree,
All the apples fell on me,
Bake a pudding, bake a pie,
Did you ever tell a lie?
Yes, you did,
You know you did,
You broke your mother's teapot lid,
L-I-D spells "lid"
And out goes you!

Monkey, Monkey, bottle of beer,
How many monkeys are there here?
One is far, one is near,
And you are the one
Who is out, my dear.

Wire, briar, limberlock,
Three geese in a flock,
One flew east, one flew west,
One flew over the cuckoo's nest.
The clock fell down,
The mouse ran around,
Scared all the people in the town—
And out goes she
With a dirty dishrag
On her knee!

- Author unknown

I ran across these and loved them, though I must say I don't know to whose tradition they belong. I keep an ear out for counting rhymes because they always carry some sort of regional flavor that belongs uniquely to that neighborhood, that school district or that time. 'Ol' Mary Mac, all dressed in black, with silver buttons all down her back,' asks her mother in one song for fifteen cents to "see the elephants jump the fence." Elsewhere she wants to see "the presidents." (Fence-jumping elephants, however, infinitely more exciting.) One of my favorite from older years -- is the chemistry rhyme, definitely started in a school somewhere:

Johnny had a little drink
But Johnny drinks no more
Because what he thought was H2O
Was H2SO4

You will now never forget the formula for sulfuric acid, will you?

Childhood. Strange days of spontaneous, playground poetry.

I remember my sisters and I weeping with laughter over my father's childhood hide-and-seek counting chant, "Three, six, nine, the goose drank wine, the monkey chewed tobacco by the streetcar line..." and then hearing the words in a reggae song years later (not, sadly, followed by the shout, "Are ya all hid?"). We were sure he'd made that up, but apparently a Pensacola childhood is... like a reggae song? Who knows. Who knows...

There are more piquant and unexpected pleasures at Poetry Friday, hosted for the very first time at AmoXcalli. Happy weekend to you, may you, in some way, rediscover a portion of childhood...


Kelly Fineman said...

dressed in yella,
went downstairs to kiss her fella,
made a mistake and kissed a snake
how many doctors will it take?

There are other color variations, too -- they're old jump rope rhymes.

I suppose you know Miss Mary Murple, the variant on Miss Mary (Tad) Mack?

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

Yes, I am definitely a fan of elephants over presidents! I've been listening to Ella Jenkins a lot lately, and I like the gospel/blues "Ma-ree Mack" as well as the more familiar version.

Charlotte said...

Oh I do like the one about Johnny!


Liz in Ink said...

Saving these to read aloud when the kids come home from school today!

Sara said...

I like the completely nonsensical ones, like "Inter mitzy titzy tool...," and not just because they're crazy fun to chant. Somehow, those ones make it harder to cheat with---you know, like when you add a "very, very" in front of "dirty dishrag" in order to make your best friend not go out. But no one ever did THAT, did they?

This post makes me want to go jump rope!

TadMack said...

But Kelly, what rhymes with purple? Nope, I'd never heard the Miss Mary Murple, ever!

Heh. Sara, Sara... No, I would NEVER add anything to the rhyming chants. Nothing like, "My Mother Told Me To Pick The Very Best One And You Are Not Going To Be It For The Rest Of Your Life," instead of how it actually goes, "And you are not it."

Nope. Never.

jama said...

LOVE these! (Can you see me jumping?) They embody the spirit of childhood. I'm feeling very girlish now.

Sara said...

LOL. Oh, TadMack, wouldn't that make a GREAT book title???

Cloudscome said...

Ring a ding ding,
the school bell ring.
Teacher knickers
tie up with string.
String pop,
knickers drop,
teacher run out the room

Ziggedy ziggedy marble stone,
Pointer pointer buff,
buff ca-lay-lay
Fee fee lay-lay,
Bim, bam, fire!

TadMack said...

I'd ask why so many of our children's chants end with teacher's being humiliated, but I'm afraid I already know...

Mary Witzl said...

The rhyme about H2SO4 was one of my father's favorites. As was:

Blood and gore all over the floor
I stood by the kitchen door
Blood and gore all over the floor
And me without a spoon

That used to make us gag every single time.