I was randomly thinking about this song at work last night. I’m not sure about everywhere else, but when I was in elementary school, this is one of the songs we sang for exercises in Music class. That would have put me at about age six, singing THIS song:
“Sing a song of sixpence, a pocket full of rye.
Four-and-twenty blackbirds baked in a pie.
When the pie was opened, the birds began to sing.
Wasn’t that a dainty dish to set before the King?
The King was in the counting house, counting out his money.
The Queen was in the parlor, eating bread and honey.
The maid was in the garden, hanging out the clothes
when down came a blackbird and snipped off her nose!”
I was going to copy/paste from Wikipedia, but typing it out as I remembered it was the easiest way to maintain my formatting.
Some thoughts: First of all, 24 birds were baked in a pie. They were put in the pie and then put in an oven to bake, and yet are somehow singing for the King. Also, whoever decided to bake this pie obviously didn’t know what the fuck they were doing, as none of the birds were feathered or in any way prepared to be eaten.
The King is counting his tax-payer money instead of ruling his country. The Queen is eating blissfully while the land she helps rule over falls to ruin because her husband is greedy. She’s also eating bread and honey, relatively cheap commodities*, so it seems that her husband doesn’t even share his wealth with her. The maid, the only one actually DOING her job, gets her nose violently removed by a bird!
Wikipedia shows the phrasing as “a blackbird ripped off her nose”. The version I was taught as a child was “snipped”, probably because it’s less graphic. As an adult who knows what it looks like when a bird pecks at flesh, I’m really surprised that this is a children’s rhyme. It’s really fucked up and disgusting to think about a bird attacking your face and managing to remove your nose. Although, my primary concern in that situation would be protecting my eyes and getting a hand around ANY part of that bird. Squish. Snap.
This is random. Anyway, poor maid, and silly royalty. I’m really glad that I didn’t think too deeply about any of this stuff until I was a teen, because I would have been horrified as a child.
*I have no idea if honey was cheap or easily attained when Kings and Queens ruled and had castles and stuff. Which is how I imagine the setting. I’m too lazy to research for a casual post.