Posts filed under ‘PUSSY AND ROBIN REDBREAST’

PUSSY AND ROBIN REDBREAST

THE ROLE OF CATS IN NURSERY RHYMES
by Sarah Hartwell

Little Robin Redbreast sat upon a tree,
Up went Pussy-cat, and down went he;
Down came Pussy-cat, and away Robin ran;
Says little Robin Redbreast, “Catch me if you can.”
Little Robin Redbreast flew upon a wall,
Pussy-cat jumped after him, and almost got a fall;
Little Robin chirp’d and sang, and what did Pussy say?
Pussy-cat said “Mew,” and Robin flew away.

Though some people have suggested the cat and bird game is a political reference, this rhyme does not appear to have a historical origin. It tells young children that cats hunt birds and it helps them identify the English robin (a small brown bird with red breast and white belly). It also teaches very young children that birds fly, but cats don’t! The following verse about animal enemies, though a rhyme in its own right, is also found in some variants of “Froggie Goes A-Courting”.

The old black cat jumped over the wall
And ate the rat, the mouse, and all.
If you want any more you can sing it yourself
The book lies on the pantry shelf.

Another cat and bird rhyme:

Ding, dong, darrow,
The cat and the sparrow;
The little dog has burnt his tail,
And he shall be hang’d to-morrow

A further cat-and-bird rhyme is the “Pussy cat ate the ducklings” variant rhyme mentioned earlier.

May 26, 2008 at 1:39 pm Leave a comment


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