Fee-fi-fo-fum

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"Fee-fi-fo-fum" is the first line of a historical quatrain (or sometimes couplet) famous for its use in the classic English fairy tale Jack and the Beanstalk. The poem, as given in Joseph Jacobs's rendition, is as follows:

Fee-fi-fo-fum,
I smell the blood of an Englishman,
Be he live, or be he dead
I'll grind his bones to make my bread.[1]

Though the rhyme is tetrametric, it follows no consistent metrical foot; however, the respective verses correspond roughly to monosyllabic tetrameter, dactylic tetrameter, trochaic tetrameter, and iambic tetrameter. The poem has historically made use of assonant half rhyme.

Origin[edit]

Earlier variants of the fairy tale Jack the Giant-Killer found in chapbooks include various renditions of the poem, recited by the giant Thunderdell:

In William Shakespeare's play King Lear, the character of Edgar exclaims:

Fie, foh, and fum,
I smell the blood of a British man.

The verse in King Lear makes use of the archaic word "fie", used to express disapproval.[3] This word is used repeatedly in Shakespeare's works, King Lear himself shouting, "Fie, fie, fie! pah, pah!" and the character of Mark Antony (in Antony and Cleopatra) simply exclaiming "O fie, fie, fie!" The word "fum" has sometimes been interpreted as "fume".[1] Formations such as "fo" and "foh" are perhaps related to the expression "pooh!", which is used by one of the giants in Jack the Giant-Killer;[2] such conjectures largely indicate that the phrase is of imitative origin, rooted in the sounds of flustering and anger.

Modern use[edit]

In the Laurel and Hardy film A Chump at Oxford, the Oxford students walk in a procession, chanting "Fee-fi-fo-fum, we want the blood of an American".

In his poem "The Day the Saucers Came", Neil Gaiman uses the expression as a verb: "...While giants feefofummed across the land ...".[4]

In the song "Powaful Impak!", rapper Buckshot rhymes "Fee, to the Fi, to the Fo, to the Funk".[5]

In the song "Anything (Viva!)" from the album Nail by Scraping Foetus off the Wheel, released in 1985.[6]

In the song "Pop Muzik" by M.[7]

In the Monkees TV series, when the Monkees overhear "Fee fi fo fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman", Davy Jones assumes the giant is referring to him.

In the 1961 Popeye the Sailor short "Hamburgers Aweigh", When the Sea Hag hijacked Popeye's ship by getting rid of Popeye and Olive Oyl, Wimpy uses the Whiffle Bird to put a magic spell on him and the canned hamburgers. As a result, he goes berserk to the cabin to eat all the hamburgers while saying "Fee, fi, fo, fum! I smell hamburgers, yum, yum!"

In the song "Crua Chan" by the argentinian rock band formed by Luca Prodan, SUMO, from the album "After Chabón" released in 1987 [8]

The song 'Fee Fi Fo' by Cranberries. Released in June 1999. the song speaks of the pedophilia problem in modern society "Fee fi fo she smells his body / She smells his body / And it makes her sick to her mind / He has got so much to answer for."

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Tatar, Maria (2002). "Jack and the Beanstalk". The Annotated Classic Fairy Tales. New York: W. W. Norton & Co. pp. pp. 131 – 144. ISBN 0-393-05163-3. 
  2. ^ a b History of Jack the Giant Killer. Glasgow: Printed for the booksellers. 
  3. ^ "fie". The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. The Houghton Mifflin Co. 2000. Retrieved November 13, 2008. 
  4. ^ Gaiman, Neil. "The Day the Saucers Came". Poster of the poem at Neil Gaiman's Neverwear store. Retrieved February 12, 2013. 
  5. ^ "Black moon lyrics". 
  6. ^ "Nail lyrics". 
  7. ^ http://www.lyrics007.com/M%20Lyrics/Pop%20Muzik%20Lyrics.html
  8. ^ http://www.releaselyrics.com/6ec9/sumo-crua-chan/