Mother Goose: Tradition, who she was and some Rhymes
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Mother Goose is a well known and very popular figure in
children's literature, nursery rhymes and fairy tales.
Nursery rhymes are where the most references to Mother Goose
are made, especially in the wealth of Mother Goose stories.
In the United Kingdom Mother Goose is better known for being
a popular Christmas pantomime. The rhymes from Mother Goose
have formed the basis for many classic British pantomimes.
Mother Goose is the name given to the writer (or collector?)
of many classic nursery rhymes and stories. She was
supposedly a country woman yet there is no specific woman or
writer who has been given the title Mother Goose. The first
mention of a Mother Goose appeared in the "Jean Loret's La
Muse Historique" that was collected in 1650. The term Mother
Goose was already familiar by then.
The gravestone of Mary Goose in the Granary Burying Ground
in Boston, Massachusetts has been shown to tourists and is
touted as being the resting place of Mother Goose. The
problem is that this can't be verified.
What is told to most people in Massachusetts is that Mother
Goose was the wife of Isaac Goose and was named either
Elizabeth Foster Goose or Mary Goose. Both of these women
(or one woman) died after the reference in the "Jean Loret's
La Muse Historique" had already been written.
According to Boston Travel writer Eleanor Early, the writer
of the Mother Goose nursery rhymes and stories was a woman
who lived in Boston in the 1660's and was the second wife of
Isaac Goose. Their combined children numbered sixteen.
When Isaac passed on, Elizabeth reportedly married Thomas
Fleet, a publisher. According to the history writer Early,
Elizabeth would sing to her grandchildren all day. Other
children would come by to hear these ditties. Then finally
her son-in-law wrote down all of her songs and printed them
all together to make the Mother Goose books.
According to Katherine Elwes in the book "The Real
Personages of Mother Goose" published 1930; Mother Goose was
really the wife of King Robert the Second of France, Berthe
la Fileuse (Bertha the Spinner, also known as Berthe Pied
d'Oie (Goose-foot Bertha).
According to Elwes, who cites the "Midi the Reine Pedauque",
Bertha la Fileuse, according to the legends in the book,
would spin wonderful tales that captured children's
attention. But the Mother Goose authority Iona Opie who
studies Mother Goose tradition doesn't give any credence to
the claims from Boston or from Katherine Elwes.
Charles Perrault, the initiator of the fairy tale genre in
literature, published in 1695 a fairy tale collection
"Histoires ou contes du temps passés, avec des moralités"
also known as "Contes de ma mère l'Oye" or "Tales of my
Mother Goose" under his son's name. It was Perrault's
publication that marks the first authentic starting-point
for Mother Goose stories.
An English translation appeared in 1729 "Robert Samber's
Histories or Tales of Past Times", Told by Mother Goose".
This introduced "Cinderella", "Little Red Riding-Hood",
"Puss in Boots", "Sleeping Beauty" and other Perrault tales
to English-speaking audiences.
More tales where published by John Newbery, who published
"Mother Goose Melody," also known as "Sonnets for the
Cradle," a compilation of English rhymes. This switched the
focus of popular children's literature from fairy tales to
nursery rhymes and until recently this was the main
connotation associated with Mother Goose.
In the United States, the first publication of Mother Goose
stories showed up in Worcester Massachusetts, where in 1786
the printer Isaiah Thomas reprinted the Samber's volume
using the same title.
Ma Mere L'Oye which is a suite for the piano was written by
Maurice Ravel and a ballet around the suite was orchestrated
The Mother Goose Society was founded in 1987 to encourage a love
for the warm tradition of Mother Goose rhymes and Mother Goose's
comforting embrace and to promote the annual celebration of
Mother Goose Day
Mother Goose Society:
Some of the More Popular Mother Goose Rhymes
As I was going to St. Ives
As round as an apple
Baa, baa, black sheep
Blow, wind, blow!
Bow, wow, wow
Bye, baby bunting
Cat came fiddling out of a barn
Cobbler, cobbler, mend my shoe
Come, butter, come
Cushy cow bonny, let down thy milk.
Diddle, diddle, dumpling, my son John
Ding, dong, bell,Kitty's in the well
Farmer went riding/Upon his gray mare
Girls and boys, come out to play
God bless the master of this house
Hey Diddle Diddle
Hickory, dickory, dock
I had a little nut-tree
I had a little pony
I have a little sister
I saw a ship a-sailing,
If all the seas were one sea
In marble walls as white as milk
Intery, mintery, cutery-corn
Jack and Jill
Jack be nimble, Jack be quick
Little Betty Blue
Little Boy Blue
Little Jack Horner
Little King Boggen
Little Miss Muffet
Little Nancy Etticoat
Little Red Riding Hood
Little Robin Redbreast
Monday's child is fair of face
North wind doth blow
Old King Cole
Old Mother Hubbard
Once I saw a little bird
One, two, Buckle my shoe
Kitty-cat, kitty-cat, where have you been?
Ride a horse to Banbury Cross
Robert Rowley rolled a round roll 'round
Simple Simon met a pieman
Sing a song of sixpence
Rose is red, The violet's blue
There was a crooked man
There was a man in our town
There was an old man
There was an old woman
There was an old woman tossed up in a basket
There was an old woman who lived in a shoe
There were three jovial huntsmen
Thirty days hath September
This is the house that Jack built
This little pig went to market
Three blind mice!
Three children sliding on the ice
To market, to market
Twenty white horses
Up little baby
Wee Willie Winkie
Willy boy, Willy boy
Mother Goose -- Collections
Briggs, Raymond. Mother Goose Treasury. 1966
Brooke, Leslie. Ring 'o Roses. 1923
deAngeli, Marguerite. Book of Nursery and Mother Goose Rhymes.
de Paola, Tomie. Tomie dePaola's Mother Goose. 1985
de Paoli, Tomie. Hey Diddle Diddle [shorter version of above]
Lobel, Arnold. Random House Book of Mother Goose. 1986
Marshall, James. James Marshall's Mother Goose. 1979
Opie, Iona. My Very First Mother Goose. Il. Rosemary Wells. 1996
Opie, Iona. Here Comes Mother Goose. Il. Rosemary Wells. 1999
Opie, Iona and Peter. Tail Feathers from Mother Goose. 1988.
Provensen, Alice and Martin. The Mother Goose Book. 1976
Rojankovsky, Feodor. Tall Book of Mother Goose. 1942.
Watson, Wendy. Wendy Watson's Mother Goose. 1989
Wright, Blanche. Real Mother Goose. 1916
Old Mother Goose
Old Mother Goose,
When she wanted to wander,
Would ride through the air,
On a very fine gander.
Mother Goose had a house,
It stood in the wood,
Where an owl at the door,
As sentinel stood.
She had a son, Jack,
A plain looking lad,
'Twas not very good,
Nor yet very bad.
She sent him to market.
A live goose he bought,
"See, Mother?" he said,
"I have not been for naught."
Jack's goose and her Gander,
Soon grew very fond.
They'd both eat together,
Or swim in the pond.
Then, one fine morning,
As I have been told,
Jack's goose had laid him
An egg of pure gold.
He ran to his mother,
The news for to tell.
She called him a good boy,
And said it was well.
Jack sold his egg,
To a merchant untrue,
Who cheated him out,
Of half of his due.
Then Jack went courting,
A lady so gay,
As fair as the lily,
As sweet as the May.
The merchant and squire,
Soon came at his back,
And began to belabour,
The sides of poor Jack.
Then old Mother Goose,
That instant came in,
And turned her son Jack,
Into famed Harlequin.
She then with her wand,
Touched the lady so fine,
And turned her at once,
Into sweet Columbine.
The gold egg in the sea,
Was thrown away then,
When an odd fish brought her,
The egg back again.
The merchant then vowed,
The goose he would kill,
Resolving at once,
His pockets to fill.
Jack's mother came in,
And caught the goose soon,
And mounting its back,
Flew up to the moon.
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