Sunday, July 6, 2008

Old Mother Hubbard

Old Mother Hubbard is a Nursery Rhyme classic.
I'm sure that you will find some verses you remember and others that seem very odd. Like most stories or poems that were originally in the oral tradition, the poem has changed through the years.
The history of the poem can be found at the end of this post.


Old Mother Hubbard
Went to the cupboard
To get her poor Dog a bone;
But when she came there
The cupboard was bare,
And so the poor Dog had none.

She went to the baker's
To buy him some bread,
But when she came back
The poor Dog looked dead.

She went to the hatter's
To buy him a hat,
But when she came back
He was feeding the cat.

She went to the barber's
To buy him a wig,
But when she came back
He was dancing a jig.

She went to the joiner's
To buy him a coffin,
But when she came back
The poor Dog was laughing.

She took a clean dish
To get him some tripe,
But when she came back
He was smoking a pipe.

She went to the ale-house
To get him some beer,
But when she came back
The Dog sat in a chair.

She went to the tavern
For white wine and red,
But when she came back
The Dog stood on his head.

She went to the fruiterer's
To buy him some fruit,
But when she came back
He was playing the flute.

She went to the tailor's,
To buy him a coat,
But when she came back
He was riding a goat.

She went to the sempstress
To buy him some linen,
But when she came back
The Dog was a-spinning.

She went to the hosier's
To buy him some hose,
But when she came back
He was dressed in his clothes.

She went to the cobbler's
To buy him some shoes,
But when she came back
He was reading the news.

The Dame made a curtsey,
The Dog made a bow;
The Dame said, “Your servant;”
The Dog said, “Bow-wow!”

This wonderful Dog
Was Dame Hubbard's delight;
He could sing, he could dance,
He could read, he could write.

So she gave him rich dainties
Whenever he fed,
And erected a monument
When he was dead.

Origins of Old Mother Hubbard lyrics in British history (from:
The Old Mother Hubbard referred to in this rhyme's words allude to the famous Cardinal Wolsey. Cardinal Thomas Wolsey was the most important statesman and churchman of the Tudor history period in 16th century England. Cardinal Wolsey proved to be a faithful servant but displeased the King, Henry VIII, by failing to facilitate the King's divorce from Queen Katherine of Aragon who had been his queen of many years. The reason for seeking the divorce and hence the creation of the Old Mother Hubbard poem was to enable him to marry Anne Boleyn with whom he was passionately in love. In the Old Mother Hubbard song King Henry was the "doggie" and the "bone" refers to the divorce (and not money as many believe) The cupboard relates to the Catholic Church although the subsequent divorce arranged by Thomas Cramner resulted in the break with Rome and the formation of the English Protestant church and the demise of Old Mother Hubbard - Cardinal Wolsey.