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The nursery rhyme Goosey Goosey Gander is filled with multiple meanings. It is another one of those rhymes believed to have emerged from the time of great persecution in England during the Reformation. It also holds a contemporary, colloquial meaning.
The original verse goes something like this:
Goosey goosey gander,
Whither shall I wander?
Upstairs and downstairs
And in my lady's chamber.
There I met an old man
Who wouldn't say his prayers,
So I took him by his left leg
And threw him down the stair (allnurseryrhymes.com)
There are other versions that deal with more specific ideas from which separate meanings have been interpreted.
Catholic priests being killed for continuing to keep the faith Image source: wikimedia commons
The primary interpretation is believed to be regarding the Catholic priests getting persecuted by King Henry VIII and his Protestant successors. Catholicism in England was frowned upon when King Henry established the Church of England. Anyone practicing Catholicism was put to death for treason. Many of the courtiers were hanged on this charge, and are noted in history as being martyrs for their faith.
Those who managed to practice their religion without being discovered did so in what was called a 'priest hole'. These were small rooms in the walls of a house that was covered by tapestry or a bookshelf. The required prayer instruments would be placed here, and the person would retire to this chamber at night, or at a time when they were not required elsewhere. The goose that wanders her mistress's house in the nursery rhyme discovers such a person, presumably a priest, and exposes him, or 'throws him down the stair'.
An alternative meaning to this rhyme originates from the lower class of England's population, a colloquial term used widely among the non-rich. The word 'goose' was used commonly to address a prostitute, and here, could possibly refer to a woman who has acquired an STI (Sexually Transmitted Infection). "Whither shall I wander?/ Upstairs and downstairs/ And in my lady's chamber," could be a reference to the spread of an infection that a man acquires from such a woman, which causes him to be ostracised from his community. It was quite common in England for an upper-classman to bed a lower-class woman in the society of those days.
It is rather interesting that such a practice would turn into folklore, and in turn, become a rhyme sung by little children all over the world. It has certain amusing images no doubt, but not without raising questions. England of the times of Reformation was certainly a dark place, with a terribly dark heritage.
Keywords: Heritage, Rhymes, Folklore, England, Reformation
The Reformation in England is notorious for the religious impact it had on the countries of the world, and the current ongoing dispute among the various factions of Catholicism and Protestantism. Three Blind Mice, a rhyme that emerged in 1609, roughly a few years after the death of Queen Elizabeth I, is somewhat a dark reminder of the Dark Ages.
The Reformation began in England when King Henry VIII broke away from the Catholic church because he wanted to divorce his wife, to marry another woman who would bear him a male heir. His wife was a devout catholic and refused to give up her crown to another. The king decided to break away from the Papacy, from Rome, where the Catholic church reigned from. He created the Church of England, and put himself as the legal head. England broke into two factions based on religion, and after Henry's death, the country was plunged in war.
Henry's eldest daughter, Queen Mary I took the throne after her father, and propagated Catholicism, as taught by her mother. Henry's other daughter, through his second wife, Queen Elizabeth I embraced the Protestant faith. Queen Mary was always paranoid of losing her throne to Elizabeth, and she hated the Protestants because of what happened to her mother. She set about ruthlessly persecuting anyone who openly professed their faith, which led to her being known as 'Bloody Mary'.
Illustration of Christian protestants being burned at the stake Image source: wikimedia commons
History has recorded the death of three Bishops, Ridley, Lattimer, and Crammer, known as the Oxford martyrs. They were burned at stake for teaching the Protestant doctrine. The rhyme Three Blind Mice is believed to be an allegorical allusion to the incident of the bishops' execution. They are called 'blind' because of their refusal to recant their confession. Queen Mary is said to have "cut off their tales with a carving knife" and is referred to as a farmer's wife to lighten the scene for children; perhaps to also reduce the ruthlessness of the act.
Three blind mice. Three blind mice.
See how they run. See how they run.
They all ran after the farmer's wife,
Who cut off their tails with a carving knife,
Did you ever see such a sight in your life,
As three blind mice (Modern version of the rhyme, Wikipedia)
Three Blind Mice is sung widely in nurseries of the world by little children, often innocent of the true story behind it.
Keywords: Three Blind Mice, Nursery Rhymes, Reformation, Persecution, England, Queen Mary
The situation in India at present is grave and worrying. The second wave of the dreaded Covid-19 virus has hit the country like a bolt from the blue. It is spreading all across India like a ‘Tsunami’ and is affecting every segment of the population.
The pertinent question that has arisen is whether the Indian Premier League (IPL) should continue or not.
The IPL at present is the lifeline for Indian cricket and cricketers. The Indian cricket board (BCCI) could have easily held it in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) like they did six months ago.
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However, having successfully accomplished a series against England during the pandemic earlier and being given the hosting rights for the T20 World Cup later in the year, the BCCI needed to show that cricket can be played even in this dire situation.
The BCCI has been able to successfully run the first half of the tournament without a blemish and one has to give credit to the players, staff, and administrators who made it possible.
Unfortunately in India, the success story of the cash-rich IPL has become a difficult pill to swallow.
Anything or anyone doing well is for some reason brought down.
Indians suffer from a crabs-in-a-bucket mentality. There will always be one trying to bring down another who is going up.
The IPL too is becoming a victim of people who say that since everything around is bleak, cricket shouldn’t be played.
One does understand the anti-cricket sentiments but the IPL is being played in empty stadia with all involved in a bio-secure bubble which keeps each one of them safe and sound.
Cricket is not utilizing oxygen cylinders, beds in hospitals, or recovery drugs required for people suffering from this pandemic. The cocooned cricketers, who are themselves lonely and in a stifling situation while completing their assignment, are giving the millions of followers of the game entertainment to forget the situation prevailing around them.
One, therefore, is perplexed at suggestions that a cricket tournament, which has not brought any harm yet, should be terminated just to show how one cares for the suffering.
The IPL is a wonderful platform to convey messages to millions of fans following it. Rather than having full-fledged debates about the virus on TV and social media, the conveying of simple do’s and don’ts in local languages would be just the tonic the doctor ordered.
Most Indians need simple instructions and information, and the IPL could be the right platform for it.
Advertisement in the IPL is one area that the sponsors need to look at quite seriously. Most of the commercials are quite unbearable and this would be an ideal situation for them to come forth with serious and useful messaging.
There is a ridiculous talk of IPL taking away funds from companies that otherwise could have been diverted to the Covid battle.
One can be assured that each of these companies sponsoring is not small players and have enough in their kitty to support the Covid cause along with the IPL.
The BCCI has always supported the PM Cares Fund in the past, even during the first wave of Covid. One is quite sure that they will continue to do so in the future.
One does feel sorry for the cricketers, administrators, and support staff locked up in their private chambers. The job of playing the sport that they love and providing entertainment to their fans and followers at a time when getting employment is at a premium must be enough of an incentive for them to play even under these circumstances.
Some players have indicated anxiety and left the IPL to be with their near and dear ones and this is quite understandable too.
Each player in the bubble is worried and concerned and for them to be playing cricket is a far better option than being locked up, bored with nothing to do, similar to what they experienced a year ago.
For most of the cricketers, the six months away from the sport last year was the most difficult time they faced.
Presently, cricketers are the actors of the entertainment world and as the famous Bollywood star Raj Kapoor always said, “the show must go on”. (IANS/KB)
BY- JAYA CHOUDHARY
After many revolutions and invasions, today many languages are being spoken across the world as the medium of communication. Out of these languages, English is one of the finest languages that stand in common for people to communicate. In the grand scheme of things, the English language has only been around for a little over 1,500 years, which is a blip in the history of human language and an even smaller blip in the history of humanity.
Like other languages, English has developed through generations of speakers, experiencing significant changes over time. We may trace the language’s origins back to its ancient roots by undoing these changes. Though modern English and Latin-derived Romance languages share several common words, most of those words were not originally part of it. Instead, they started coming into the language with the Norman invasion of England in 1066.
When the Normans invaded England and became its ruling class, they brought their language with them, introducing a large amount of French and Latin vocabulary to the English language that had previously been spoken. That dialect is now known as Old English. It does not seem to be very familiar, but it contains traces of German since Old English is a member of the Germanic language family. Angles, Saxons, and Jutes were the first to bring it to the British Isles in the 5th and 6th centuries. Invaders from the 8th to 11th centuries introduced more Old Norse borrowings to the mix.
However, how did the language get its name?
The word English is pronounced as ‘Englisc’ in the olden age of English because it is linked to the Anglo Tribes place of Engle, which is the root of the Angle Germanic Tribe. Old English was used until the arrival of the Duke of Normandy in the 10th century when they invaded England. Due to the supremacy of French in the early 11th century, upper-class people conversed in French while the lower class spoke English. This was named the Middle English period.
However, in the 14th century, the English reasserted their dominance in the United Kingdom. Following this dominating era, the birth of Modern English in the 15th century resulted in the emergence of new words, phrases, and grammar, as well as the standardization of the London dialect. Then in 1604 was written the first single-language English dictionary. . The vocabulary is the only distinction between Early Modern English (1500-1800) and Late Modern English (l800-present). From a dialect of Germanic settlers in the 5th century to a global lingo in the 21st century, it has evolved.