This Is the House That Jack Built

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"This Is the House That Jack Built"
Roud #20584
Randolph Caldecott illustration2.jpg
Randolph Caldecott illustration from The complete collection of pictures & songs, published 1887. Digitally restored.
Written by Traditional
Published 1755
Written England
Language English
Form Nursery rhyme

"This Is the House That Jack Built" is a popular British nursery rhyme and cumulative tale. It has a Roud Folk Song Index number of 20584. It is Aarne-Thompson type 2035.[1]

Lyrics[edit]

This is perhaps the most common set of modern lyrics:

This is the house that Jack built.
This is the cheese that lay in the house that Jack built.
This is the rat that ate the cheese
That lay in the house that Jack built.
This is the cat that chased the rat
That ate the cheese that lay in the house that Jack built.
This is the dog that worried the cat
That chased the rat that ate the cheese
That lay in the house that Jack built.
This is the cow with the crumpled horn
That tossed the dog that worried the cat
That chased the rat that ate the cheese
That lay in the house that Jack built.
This is the maiden all forlorn
That milked the cow with the crumpled horn
That tossed the dog that worried the cat
That chased the rat that ate the cheese
That lay in the house that Jack built.
This is the man all tattered and torn
That kissed the maiden all forlorn
That milked the cow with the crumpled horn
That tossed the dog that worried the cat
That chased the rat that ate the cheese
That lay in the house that Jack built.
This is the judge all shaven and shorn
That married the man all tattered and torn
That kissed the maiden all forlorn
That milked the cow with the crumpled horn
That tossed the dog that worried the cat
That chased the rat that ate the cheese
That lay in the house that Jack built.
This is the rooster that crowed in the morn
That woke the judge all shaven and shorn
That married the man all tattered and torn
That kissed the maiden all forlorn
That milked the cow with the crumpled horn
That tossed the dog that worried the cat
That chased the rat that ate the cheese
That lay in the house that Jack built.
This is the farmer sowing his corn
That kept the rooster that crowed in the morn
That woke the judge all shaven and shorn
That married the man all tattered and torn
That kissed the maiden all forlorn
That milked the cow with the crumpled horn
That tossed the dog that worried the cat
That chased the rat that ate the cheese
That lay in the house that Jack built.
This is the horse and the hound and the horn
That belonged to the farmer sowing his corn
That kept the rooster that crowed in the morn
That woke the judge all shaven and shorn
That married the man all tattered and torn
That kissed the maiden all forlorn
That milked the cow with the crumpled horn
That tossed the dog that worried the cat
That chased the rat that ate the cheese
That lay in the house that Jack built.

Some versions use "cheese" instead of "malt", "judge" instead of "priest", "rooster" instead of "cock", the older past tense form "crew" instead of "crowed", or "chased" in place of '"killed".

Narrative technique[edit]

This Is the House That Jack Built illustrated by Randolph Caldecott

It is a cumulative tale that does not tell the story of Jack's house, or even of Jack who built the house, but instead shows how the house is indirectly linked to other things and people, and through this method tells the story of "The man all tattered and torn", and the "Maiden all forlorn", as well as other smaller events, showing how these are interlinked.

Origins[edit]

It has been argued that the rhyme is derived from an Aramaic hymn Chad Gadya (lit., "One Young Goat") in Sepher Haggadah, first printed in 1590; but although this is an early cumulative tale that may have inspired the form, the lyrics bear little relationship.[2] It was suggested by James Orchard Halliwell that the reference to the "priest all shaven and shorn" indicates that the English version is probably very old, presumably as far back as the mid-sixteenth century.[3][4] There is a possible reference to the song in The Boston New Letter of 12 April 1739 and the line: "This is the man all forlorn, &c". However, it did not appear in print until it was included in Nurse Truelove's New-Year's-Gift, or the Book of Books for Children, printed in London in 1755.[5] It was printed in numerous collections in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.[2] Randolph Caldecott produced an illustrated version in 1878.

Cherrington Manor, a handsome timber-framed house in North East Shropshire, England, is reputed to be the actual house that Jack built. There is a former malt house in the grounds.[6]

Syntactic structure[edit]

Each sentence in the story is an example of an increasingly deeply nested relative clause. The last version, "This is the horse...", would be quite difficult to untangle if the previous ones were not present. See the Noun Phrase for more details about postmodification of the noun phrase in this manner.

References in popular culture[edit]

Walter Crane - The House that Jack Built - Google Art Project.jpg

The rhyme continues to be a popular choice for illustrated children's books, with recent examples by Simms Taback[7] and Quentin Blake[8] showing how illustrators can introduce a fresh angle and humour into a familiar tale. The popularity of the rhyme can be seen in its use in a variety of other cultural contexts, including:

In literature and journalism[edit]

  • Samuel Taylor Coleridge used it as the basis of a self-parody published in 1797 under the name Nehemiah Higginbotham. This was one of three sonnets, the other two parodying Charles Lamb and Charles Lloyd. Beginning "And this reft house is that the which he built / Lamented Jack! And here his malt he piled / Cautious in vain!" it piled together phrases from Coleridge's serious work put to ludicrous use.
  • An adaptation by Frederick Winsor appeared in The Space Child's Mother Goose (1958) as "This is the theory Jack built." It commented on the progress of science by describing the creation, obfuscation, and eventual destruction of a flawed theory.
  • The poem "The Responsibility" by Peter Appleton parodies this rhyme to make a social comment about the manufacture of weapons.[9]
  • The twelfth Torchwood novel is titled The House that Jack Built.
  • The news stories in 2006 about the shady dealings of lobbyist Jack Abramoff led to editorials about "the house that Jack built".[10]
  • There is a political version with Hillary Clinton in it.
  • Laurie Faria Stolarz referenced it in her book Blue is for Nightmares. One of the main characters receives an e-mail from an ex-boyfriend with a link to an animation of the poem.
  • Louisa May Alcott in her novel Little Women says the "'cow with a crumpled horn' used to invite rash youths to come and be tossed."
  • In the graphic novel From Hell by Alan Moore, Inspector Frederick Abberline refers to his house as "the house Jack built" noting the role of Jack the Ripper in financing his home.
  • In The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, an adventure titled "The House that Jack Built" written by Edward Wellen. Holmes battles Moriarty within the mind of an "idiot savant" frequently visualizing these lyrics to navigate a mental labyrinth.
  • Mystery author Ed McBain published one of his "Matthew Hope" novels with the name The House that Jack Built in 1988. Practically every character had a corresponding counterpart to one in the original poem — an unpleasant heavyset older woman with a faulty hearing aid represented "the cow with the crumpled horn," for example.
  • One of the rhymes remembered by Mr Charrington in George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four.
  • Mentioned in "A Tale of Two Cities" by Charles Dickens ("A Hand at Cards", Book the Third, Ch. VIII)

In politics[edit]

  • One of the "Political Miscellanies" associated with the Rolliad, an eighteenth-century British satire, was "This Is the House That George Built", referring to George Nugent Grenville, Marquess of Buckingham, who had briefly supported William Pitt the Younger into government before resigning from office. The parody is attributed to Joseph Richardson.[11]
  • Thomas Jefferson, prior to serving as President, first used it to criticize the broad construction approach of the Necessary and Proper Clause of the U.S. Constitution with respect to a bill to grant a federal charter to a mining company. The term was used to suggest that the expansion of federal powers under these arguments would give the federal government infinite powers. "Congress are authorized to defend the nation. Ships are necessary for defense; copper is necessary for ships; mines, necessary for copper; a company necessary to work the mines; and who can doubt this reasoning who has ever played at 'This is the House that Jack Built'? Under such a process of filiation of necessities the sweeping clause makes clean work."
  • During The Great War, British Propaganda promoted the following version of the rhyme:
This is the house that Jack built.
This is the bomb that fell on the house that Jack built.
This is the Hun who dropped the bomb that fell on the house that Jack built.
This is the gun that killed the Hun who dropped the bomb that fell on the house that Jack built.

In television and film[edit]

  • A 1959 Warner Brothers cartoon is entitled The Mouse that Jack Built. It is a parody of The Jack Benny Show, whose stars supply the voices of mouse caricatures of themselves.[12]
  • In 1966 an episode of The Avengers was titled "The House That Jack Built".[citation needed]
  • A 1967 animated short The House That Jack Built was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film.[13]
  • The climax of the first adventure of the British fantasy series Sapphire & Steel hinged on the recitation of the rhyme.[citation needed]
  • A public information film from the 1970s–1980s about fire safety was entitled The House That Jack Built, and was presented as an animated book containing the story of how a house (built by a man named Jack) burnt down in the night due to an unguarded fire and open doors, which resulted in the deaths of Jack's wife and newborn baby. The ending of the advert urges viewers to buy a smoke alarm and follow fire safety plans.[citation needed]
  • In episode 3.05 of the TV show Frasier, actor Kelsey Grammer as the character Frasier says: "I cut myself because I was shaving without water. And why was there no water? Because I had to move your chair which gouged the floor which made me call for Joe who found bad pipes which called for Cecil who ate the cat who killed the rat that lived in the house that Frasier built!" [14]
  • In Lars von Trier's The Element of Crime the prostitute Kim tells the poem to a child. Both are being kept in a cage at Frau Gerdas Whorehouse in Halbestadt.
  • The rhyme was referenced in the classic Doctor Who episode "The Seeds of Doom" by the Fourth Doctor and companion Sarah Jane Smith to mock the villains who were trying to force information out of them.

In popular music[edit]

  • In 1967 Alan Price had an international chart hit with his song "The House that Jack Built". It reached #4 in the UK, #26 in the Netherlands and #38 in Germany.[citation needed]
  • Aretha Franklin had a number-six pop and number-two R&B hit single with "The House That Jack Built" (not a version of the rhyme) in 1968.[15]
  • English singer Tracie Young had a hit single with "The House That Jack Built" (not a version of the rhyme) in 1983.[citation needed]
  • In 1987 a pioneering house music act under the name 'Jack N Chill' released a single called "The Jack That House Built", which has since been sampled and re-mixed into many other songs (particularly in the house genre).[16]
  • In 1987 Near the end of the track "Home" by Roger Waters on his "Radio K.A.O.S." CD, he makes a reference to it. It is done in similar fashion to the original prose - only mentioning Jack after a lengthy list of other references to the idea of Home.[citation needed]
  • In 1995 Clutch released the song "The House that Peterbilt", a reference to the truck company.[citation needed]
  • In 1996 Metallica released the album Load containing a song called "The House Jack Built".[17]
  • The Capitol Steps created and performed a parody called "The House That Jack Bribed", also referring to Jack Abramoff.[citation needed]
  • The lyrics of the song 'Alla Fiera Dell'Est' ('At the Eastern Fair') by Italian songwriter Angelo Branduardi, show a marked resemblance to 'The House that Jack Built'
  • In the Danish movie After the Wedding by Susanne Bier, volunteer worker Jacob teaches English to the children in an orphanage in India by using "The House that Jack Built".[citation needed]
  • The second studio album by indie band, The Heavy is named 'The House That Dirt Built', a satirisation of the 'The House That Jack Built'.[citation needed]
  • The fourth song by A Day to Remember on their 2010 studio album, 'What Separates Me from You', is named 'This is the House That Doubt Built'.[18]
  • The fifth song by Jesca Hoop on her 2012 album 'The House That Jack Built', is named 'The House That Jack Built'.[19]

In sports[edit]

  • The former stadium of the New York Yankees, Yankee Stadium, was nicknamed "The house that Ruth built". Babe Ruth's tremendous drawing power made the stadium possible.[20]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ D. L. Ashliman, The House That Jack Built: an English nursery rhyme of folktale type 2035
  2. ^ a b I. Opie and P. Opie, The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes (Oxford University Press, 1951, 2nd edn., 1997), pp. 229-32.
  3. ^ James Orchard Halliwell-Phillipps, Popular Rhymes and Nursery Tales: A Sequel to the Nursery Rhymes of England, p. 6
  4. ^ English Translation of Hebrew source
  5. ^ William S. Baring-Gould and Ceil Baring-Gould, The Annotated Mother Goose (New York, 1962), p. 25.
  6. ^ Twinkletrax Children's Songs.
  7. ^ Taback, Simms (2004). This is the house that Jack built (null ed.). New York: Puffin Books. ISBN 978-0-14-240200-9. 
  8. ^ Blake, John Yeoman; illustrated by Quentin (1996). The do-it-yourself house that Jack built (null ed.). London: Puffin Books. ISBN 978-0-14-055323-9. 
  9. ^ Peter Appleton, "The Responsibility," in 20th Century Poetry and War.
  10. ^ Reynolds, Paul (4 January 2006). "The hum you hear is from lobbyists". BBC News. Retrieved 2006-06-05. 
  11. ^ Notes and Queries No. 46 (14 September 1850), p. 242. Project Gutenberg edition.
  12. ^ Internet Movie Database
  13. ^ Tunis, Ron (1967). "The House That Jack Built". National Film Board of Canada. Retrieved 2009-06-09. 
  14. ^ "Episode 3.05 - Kisses Sweeter Than Wine". Frasier Online Episode Guide. Retrieved 2010-09-26. 
  15. ^ Aretha Franklin, "The House That Jack Built" Chart Positions Retrieved September 20, 2013
  16. ^ "House Is a Feeling": Chuck Roberts and Dance Music's National Anthem 2009 Pop Conference Bios/Abstracts
  17. ^ "METALLICA - Encyclopedia Metallica - Song Info - The House That Jack Built:". Encycmet.com. Retrieved 2011-11-24. 
  18. ^ http://adtr.com/releases/what_separates_me_from_you
  19. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/reviews/3z8r
  20. ^ Yankee stadium history

External links[edit]