01 October 2007

Nursery Rhymes

It seems to me that nursery rhymes are important parts of our culture, at least as important as folk songs and ballads--they are, after all, related genres. (For those who are unaware, many children's rhymes in English are related to the English and Scottish folksong tradition.)

Unfortunately, I believe that English nursery rhymes are in danger of dying out in the United States. I learned many when I was a child, from illustrated "Mother Goose" books and from the wonderful "Wee Sing" tapes and books. But I assisted with a class last spring that touched on the English ballad tradition, and when the professor and I mentioned some nursery rhymes, most of the students gave us blank stares. I thought this incredibly tragic. Nursery rhymes should not be relegated to the status of curiosities preserved only in books, to have the singing and saying of them supplanted by music like this.

Those of you who have children, or who regularly have contact with the children of friends and relatives, please teach them nursery rhymes. They are as important, I think, as fairy tales, and if you've been reading your Chesterton you know how important fairy tales are.

Here is one of my favorites to make a start:

One misty moisty morning, when cloudy was the weather
I met with an old man, cloth├Ęd all in leather.
He began to compliment and I began to grin.
How do you do? And how do you do?
And how do you do again?

No comments: