Up Hill and Down Dale

Up hill and down dale,
Butter is made in every vale;
And if Nancy Cook
Is a good girl,
She shall have a spouse,
And make butter anon,
Before her old grandmother
Grows a young man.

If Nancy is a good girl, she’ll have a spouse. Oh Nancy, be bad. Be very, very bad. Or at least be who you are and don’t worry about social pressure to get married. Figure out how to differentiate your butter from everyone else’s, start a small business selling your artisanal butter, and support yourself without having to worry about a husband.

Side note, what’s with the “grows a young man” part? Is she growing Oompa-Loompas in the garden? Or is this some Benjamin Button business with a gender fluid twist? I’m not sure what’s happening here, but I think Nancy should stay unmarried so we can find out.

Verdict: Instead of chanting this rhyme, let’s start chanting incantations to make young men grow. I’m really curious about this.

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.

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