Hey Diddle Diddle

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"Hey Diddle Diddle"
Roud #19478
Hey Diddle Diddle 2 - WW Denslow - Project Gutenberg etext 18546.jpg
The Cow jumps over the moon, according to William Wallace Denslow
Written by Traditional
Published c. 1765
Written England
Language English
Form Nursery rhyme
In this Randolph Caldecott rendition, a dish, spoon, and other utensils are anthropomorphized while a cat in a red jacket holds a fiddle in the manner of a string bass.

"Hey Diddle Diddle" (also "Hi Diddle Diddle", "The Cat and the Fiddle", or "The Cow Jumped Over the Moon") is an English nursery rhyme. It has a Roud Folk Song Index number of 19478.

Lyrics[edit]

One of the most commonly used modern versions of the rhyme is:

Hey diddle diddle,

The Cat and the fiddle,
The Cow jumped over the moon.
The little Dog laughed,
To see such sport,

And the Dish ran away with the Spoon.[1]

Origins[edit]

The rhyme may date back to at least the sixteenth century. There is a reference in Thomas Preston's play A lamentable tragedy mixed ful of pleasant mirth, conteyning the life of Cambises King of Percia, printed in 1569 that may refer to the rhyme:

They be at hand Sir with stick and fidle;

They can play a new dance called hey-didle-didle.[1]

Another possible reference is in Alexander Montgomerie's The Cherry and the Slae from 1597:

But since you think't an easy thing

To mount above the moon,
Of your own fiddle take a spring
And dance when you have done.[2]

The name "Cat and the Fiddle" was a common name for inns, including one known to have been at Old Chaunge, London by 1587.[2] Among the best known is the isolated pub at the high point on the A537 road crossing the hills from Buxton to Macclesfield, which route is generally known among the local population as "the Cat & Fiddle road". In the 1970s-80s a nearby café on the same road was the "Dish & Spoon".

The earliest recorded version of the poem in close to the modern form was printed in London in Mother Goose's Melody around 1765, with the lyrics:

High diddle diddle,

The Cat and the Fiddle,
The Cow jump'd over the Moon,
The little dog laugh'd to see such Craft,
And the Dish ran away with the Spoon.[1]

Meaning[edit]

There are numerous theories about the origin of the rhyme, including: James Orchard Halliwell's suggestion that it was a corruption of ancient Greek, probably advanced as a result of a deliberate hoax; that it was connected with Hathor worship; that it refers to various constellations (Taurus, Canis minor etc.); that it describes the Flight from Egypt; that it depicts Elizabeth, Lady Katherine Grey, and her relationships with the earls of Hertford and Leicester; that it deals with anti-clerical feeling over injunctions by Catholic priests for harder work; that it describes Katherine of Aragon (Katherine la Fidèle); Catherine, the wife of Peter the Great; Canton de Fidèle, a supposed governor of Calais and the game of cat (trap-ball).[1] This profusion of unsupported explanations was satirised by J.R.R. Tolkien in his fictional explanations of 'The Man in the Moon Stayed Up Too Late'.[3] Most scholarly commentators consider these unproved and that the verse is probably meant to be simply nonsense.[1]

Melody[edit]

The melody commonly associated with the rhyme was first recorded by the composer and nursery rhyme collector James William Elliott in his National Nursery Rhymes and Nursery Songs (1870).[4]

Adaptations[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e I. Opie and P. Opie, The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes (Oxford University Press, 1951, 2nd edn., 1997), pp. 203-4.
  2. ^ a b C. R. Wilson and M. Calore, Music in Shakespeare: a Dictionary (London: Continuum, 2005), ISBN 0826478468, p. 171.
  3. ^ S. H. Gale, Encyclopedia of British Humorists: Geoffrey Chaucer to John Cleese (London: Taylor & Francis, 1996), p. 1127.
  4. ^ J. J. Fuld, The Book of World-Famous Music: Classical, Popular, and Folk (Courier Dover Publications, 5th edn., 2000), ISBN 0486414752, p. 502.
  5. ^ Animator.ru: «A FANTASTIC TALE»