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Nursery Rhyme

Verses which are either sung or spoken, often having a nonsense element and intended for recitation to Children. They form part of the Oral Tradition.

Many have allegedly darker origins and recall some historical event. The Classic:

Ring-a-ring of Roses
A Pocket full of Posies
A-tishoo, A-tishoo
We all fall down

is reputed to follow the symptoms of the Bubonic Plague.

Remember, remember the fifth of November, Gunpowder, treason and plot is obviously about the attempt to blow uo the Houses of Parliament. Jack and Jill and Humpty Dumpty are actually quite violent.

Some follow the Round Song format such as London Bridge is Falling Down and others follow Limerick verse and many other types. It is evident that there is not just one form, but anything may get pressed into service. The Rhymes would originally be anything that came to mind to sooth babies - real or invented and what got adopted as a widespread standard is probably a more interesting study than the lyrics.

Nursery Rhymes were much studied and published by Iona and Peter Opie. They published the Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes and also worked on the Folklore and Language of Children.