Thursday, February 25, 2010

One Misty Moisty Morning

The snow from yesterday is melting, because of today's rain, causing the snow to evaporate into a thin mist... and it is a very 'misty moisty morning'. I wasn't particularly thinking of the nursery rhyme this morning though until I stumbled upon a documentary about 'The Leatherman', a hobo who wandered around Connecticut and NY in the 19th century. The documentary begins with this little nursery rhyme/ song. I've always loved this rhyme, even though I never always knew the words entirely or what it was about.

The documentary makes it kind of seem that the rhyme had actually began because of this person, but I looked it up and it is much older. There are a number of versions, but here is the whole song:

One misty moisty morning, when cloudy was the weather,
I chanced to meet an old man a-clothèd all in leather.
He was clothèd all in leather, with a cap beneath his chin,
Singing 'How d'ye do and how d'ye do and how d'ye do again'.

This rustic was a thresher, as on his way he hied,
And with a leather bottle fast buckled by his side.
He wore no shirt upon his back, but wool unto his skin,
Singing 'How d'ye do and how d'ye do and how d'ye do again'.

I went a little further and there I met a maid
'A-going, a-milking, a-milking sir' she said.
Then I began to compliment and she began to sing,
Singing 'How d'ye do and how d'ye do and how d'ye do again'.

This maid her name was Dolly, clothed in a gown of grey,
I feeling somewhat jolly persuaded her to stay.
And straight I fell a-courting her in hopes her love to win,
Singing 'How d'ye do and how d'ye do and how d'ye do again'.
I having time and leisure, I spent a vacant hour
A-telling of my treasure while sitting in her bower.
With many kind embraces, I stroked her double chin,
Singing 'How d'ye do and how d'ye do and how d'ye do again'.

I said that I would married be, and she would be my bride,
And long we should not tarry and twenty things beside.
I'll plough and sow and reap and mow, and you shall sit and spin,
Singing 'How d'ye do and how d'ye do and how d'ye do again'.

Her parents then consented, all parties were agreed,
Her portion thirty shillings, we married were with speed.
Then Will the Piper he did play, whilst others dance and sing,
Saying 'How d'ye do and how d'ye do and how d'ye do again'.

Then lusty Ralph and Robin, with many damsels gay,
Did ride on roan and dobbin to celebrate the day,
And when they met together, their caps they off did fling,
'How d'ye do and
How d'ye do and
How d'ye do and
How d'ye doooooo .....
... and How d'ye do again!'.

I often wonder about nursery rhymes.. how they began and why they get passed along or how they change along the way. Some are really bizarre and as kids we don't even realize it. Like 'Ring around the Rosie' is perhaps said to be associated with the plague... or at least that was what I was told a few years ago. I just looked this up on wikipedia however and found that it is probably not true, although the rationalization for the argument does make some sense to me.

Many have associated the poem with the Great Plague of London in 1665, or with earlier outbreaks of bubonic plague in England. Interpreters of the rhyme before World War II make no mention of this;[15] by 1951, however, it seems to have become well established as an explanation for the form of the rhyme that had become standard in the United Kingdom. Peter and Iona Opie remark: "The invariable sneezing and falling down in modern English versions have given would-be origin finders the opportunity to say that the rhyme dates back to the Great Plague. A rosy rash, they allege, was a symptom of the plague, posies of herbs were carried as protection, sneezing was a final fatal symptom , and 'all fall down' was exactly what happened."[16][17] The line Ashes, Ashes in alternative versions of the rhyme is claimed to refer variously to cremation of the bodies, the burning of victims' houses, or blackening of their skin, and the theory has been adapted to be applied to other versions of the rhyme, or other plagues.[18] In its various forms, the interpretation has entered into popular culture and has been used elsewhere to make oblique reference to the plague.[19] (For 'hidden meaning' in other nursery rhymes see Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary, Humpty Dumpty, Jack Be Nimble, Little Jack Horner, Cock Robin and Meanings of nursery rhymes.)
Folklore scholars regard the theory as baseless for several reasons:
the late appearance of the explanation;[15]
the symptoms described do not fit especially well with the Great Plague;[17][20]
the great variety of forms makes it unlikely that the modern form is the most ancient one, and the words on which the interpretation are based are not found in many of the earliest records of the rhyme (see above);[18][21]
European and 19th-century versions of the rhyme suggest that this "fall" was not a literal falling down, but a curtsy or other form of bending movement that was common in other dramatic singing games.[22]

Anyway, just some random musings on this misty moisty morning.

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