Posts filed under ‘.queen’
Lavender’s blue, dilly dilly, lavender’s green,
When I am king, dilly, dilly, you shall be queen.
Who told you so, dilly, dilly, who told you so?
‘Twas my own heart, dilly, dilly, that told me so.
Call up your men, dilly, dilly, set them to work
Some to the plow, dilly, dilly, some to the fork,
Some to make hay, dilly, dilly, some to cut corn,
While you and I, dilly, dilly, keep ourselves warm.
Lavender’s green, dilly, dilly, Lavender’s blue,
If you love me, dilly, dilly, I will love you.
Let the birds sing, dilly, dilly, And the lambs play;
We shall be safe, dilly, dilly, out of harm’s way.
I love to dance, dilly, dilly, I love to sing;
When I am queen, dilly, dilly, You’ll be my king.
Who told me so, dilly, dilly, Who told me so?
I told myself, dilly, dilly, I told me so.
THE ROLE OF CATS IN NURSERY RHYMES
by Sarah Hartwell
Pussy-cat, Pussy-cat where have you been?
I’ve been to London to look at the Queen.
Pussy-cat, Pussy-cat, what did you there?
I frightened a little mouse under a [her] chair.
One explanation of the origins of this rhyme goes back to 16th century England. One of the staff of Queen Elizabeth I (Good Queen Bess) was said to have had an old cat which tended to roam throughout one of the royal residences. On one occasion the cat apparently went underneath the throne (the “chair”) and its tail brushed against the Queen’s foot, startling her. Luckily Queen Elizabeth was amused and declared that the cat could wander through the throne room as long as it kept it free of mice!
Another suggested meaning of this relates to the poor hygiene of a different queen and is perhaps a cautionary tale about hygiene in general. Undergarments were uncommon among poorer women before the nineteenth century and dust, ash and general grime accumulated on the genitalia just as it did elsewhere on the body. Bathing was uncommon (indeed it was considered positively unhealthy) and while the hands and face would be washed, other parts were often overlooked for weeks or months, particularly those parts that would incite lustful thoughts if touched. One result of this was the accumulation of grime, cellular debris, menstrual discharge and natural secretions in the vaginal cleft. Quite substantial amounts could accumulate until their size and weight caused them to fall out while the lady was walking or when she rose from her chair. These accumulations were called sootikins and resembled small mice in colour and shape.
Accounts written by Pepys and Boswell, mention men employed in London churches to sweep up sootikins after services. There is a scurrilous anonymous account of a sootikin being allegedly found under Queen Anne’s chair in St Paul’s Cathedral in London during the Thanksgiving Service for the end of the War of the Spanish Succession. The nursery rhyme contains all of these ingredients – London, a queen, a chair and a “mouse” underneath the chair. In addition, the word “pussy” is both an affectionate term for a cat and a slang term for female genitalia. In addition to the “pussy” and “mouse” meanings, “queen” is a term for a female cat and female cats are notoriously promiscuous. This has led to alternative suggestions that the rhyme may alludes to promiscuity or prostitution.
A Scottish dialect version has the cat catching a mouse on the stair and putting it in his lunch sack to eat later on. Those who hold to the Elizabethan meaning of the English version, might feel that the Scots version refers to the problems between Elizabeth and Mary Queen of Scots. Perhaps the Scottish puss was Mary and the fat mouse was Elizabeth. Until her execution, Mary remained a focal point for Catholic conspiracies against the Protestant Elizabeth.
Poussie, poussie, baudrons, where hae ye been?
I’ve been to London, seeing the Queen.
Poussie, poussie, baudrons, what got ye there?
I got a guid fat mousikie, rinning up a stair.
Poussie, poussie, baudrons, what did ye do wi’t?
I put it in my meal-poke, to eat it to my bread.
PUSSY-CAT AND QUEEN
Where have you been?”
“I’ve been to London
To look at the Queen.”
What did you there?”
I frightened a little mouse
Under the chair.”