Every Evil Under the Sun

Many Mother Goose rhymes attempt to impart the lesson that life isn’t always fair.

For every evil under the sun,
There is a remedy, or there is none.
If there be one, try and find it;
If there be none, never mind it.

This first one focuses on calamity in our life. When something bad happens, do what you can to remedy it, but understand that there isn’t always a remedy. Doctors do what they can to save cancer patients, but the fact is that we don’t have a cure. When a car crash kills someone, there isn’t always a party at fault; sometimes an accident is just a terrible accident. Life is full of evils, but those can’t always be addressed by lawsuits, legislation, or anger.

I do not like thee, Doctor Fell;
The reason why I cannot tell;
But this I know, and know full well,
I do not like thee, Doctor Fell!

Lesson two in this series is about the arbitrary nature of attraction and affection. You can’t like everyone and not everyone likes you. There are infinite permutations of backgrounds and personalities and interests, so a person not liking you is really nothing to be offended by. Move on and make no apologies for who you are. This lesson is equally important for six-year-olds on the playground as it for 30 somethings on a dating site.

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall;
All the king’s horses,
and all the king’s men,
Couldn’t set Humpty Dumpty up again.

Similar to the first rhyme in today’s set, this familiar verse reminds us that some problems are not fixable. However, this one places a little more emphasis on personal responsibility and decision-making. Humpty Dumpty should have been more careful! If you go goofing around on walls (or skydiving or racing car or rock climbing or scuba diving or [insert risky activity here]) things might go wrong and you have no one to blame but yourself. Be prepared to accept the consequences. You won’t always be able to fix your problems. (By the way, JG McClure has written a far more interesting analysis of Humpty Dumpty than I have. Check it out!)

Verdict: Humpty Dumpty is going to have to accept his fate as a scrambled egg, but it’s not too late for the rest of us if we share and heed these tales.

It’s widely understood that Aesop’s fables had a lesson to impart to the reader. It’s less commonly known, but no less true, that the original Grimm’s fairy tales contained a lot of violence and sexual content that was inappropriate for children. But what about Mother Goose? Were the colorfully illustrated nursery rhymes in your Little Golden Book really so innocent? Were they carefully curated to be only about silliness and pat-a-cake? Let’s explore the reality together in this year’s Blogging From A to Z April Challenge.

2 Comments

  1. I think that Every Evil under the Sun is a very common sense rhyme. That is something that seems to be growing more and more scarce in children’s stories as entertainment seems to take the front seat. Excellent post!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

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