Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star

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This article is about the English lullaby. For the variations for piano by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, see Twelve Variations on "Ah vous dirais-je, Maman". For the upcoming Indian film, see Twinkle Twinkle Little Star (film).
"Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star"
Roud #7666
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.png
Lyrics by Jane Taylor
Published 1806
Written England
Language English
Form Nursery rhyme

"Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" is a popular English lullaby. The lyrics are from an early 19th-century English poem by Jane Taylor, "The Star". The poem, which is in couplet form, was first published in 1806 in Rhymes for the Nursery, a collection of poems by Taylor and her sister Ann. It is sung to the tune of the French melody Ah! vous dirai-je, maman, which was published in 1761 and later arranged by Mozart in a famous set of variations.[1] The English lyrics have six stanzas, although only the first is widely known. It has a Roud Folk Song Index number of 7666.

Lyrics[edit]

The English lyrics were first written as a poem by Jane Taylor (1783–1824)[2] and published with the title "The Star" in Rhymes for the Nursery by Jane and her sister Ann Taylor (1782-1866) in London in 1806:[3]

Tune for Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

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     Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
     How I wonder what you are!
     Up above the world so high,
     Like a diamond in the sky.

     When the blazing sun is gone,
     When he nothing shines upon,
     Then you show your little light,
     Twinkle, twinkle, all the night.

     Then the traveller in the dark
     Thanks you for your tiny spark;
     He could not see which way to go,
     If you did not twinkle so.

     In the dark blue sky you keep,
     And often through my curtains peep,
     For you never shut your eye
     'Till the sun is in the sky.

     As your bright and tiny spark
     Lights the traveller in the dark,
     Though I know not what you are,
     Twinkle, twinkle, little star.

The lyrics from "The Star" were first published with the tune in The Singing Master: First Class Tune Book in 1838.[2]

sheet music from Song Stories for the Kindergarten[4] About this sound Play 

The second two verses have significant changes by 1896, and the rest were lost in Song Stories for the Kindergarten[4] by Mildred J. Hill.

     Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
     How we wonder what you are.
     Up above the world so high,
     Like a diamond in the sky.

     When the glorious sun has set,
     And the grass with dew is wet,
     Then you show your little light,
     Twinkle, twinkle, all the night.

     When the golden sun doth rise,
     Fills with shining light the skies,
     Then you fade away from sight,
     Shine no more 'till comes the night.

Other text versions[edit]

Twinkle Twinkle little star (English) Lullaby from the Lullabies of Europe education project

The song is a popular target for parodies. "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Bat" is a parody of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" recited by the Hatter during the mad tea-party, in Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865). It reads:

Twinkle, twinkle, little bat!
How I wonder what you're at!
Up above the world you fly,
Like a tea tray in the sky.
Twinkle, twinkle—[2]

The Hatter is interrupted in his recitation. "The Bat" was the nickname of Professor Bartholomew Price, one of the dons at Oxford, a former teacher of Carroll's and well known to the Liddell family. It is one of the few parodies in the Alice books of which the original is still widely known.

In a Carl Barks "Donald Duck" comic-strip story, Donald is competing with his three nephews, as part of a Junior Woodchucks contest. Donald is challenged to sing a campfire song, and all he can think of is, "Twinkle, twinkle, little starfish,/ How I wonder what you arfish". This is one example where he is beaten by his cleverer nephews.

The Elegants released a single adapted from this song called "Little Star", which made #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1958. In 1962, Alvin and the Chipmunks performed a jazz rendition of the song for their album The Chipmunk Songbook.

An adaptation of the song, named "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Earth", was written by Charles Randolph Grean, Fred Hertz and Leonard Nimoy (Nimoy recites the text as Spock explaining how the star-people wish upon an earth and so forth). It is included on his first 1967 album Leonard Nimoy Presents Mr. Spock's Music From Outer Space.

The song has been quoted by the American hip hop duo DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince on the track, "Twinkle, Twinkle (I'm Not a Star)" from their 1993 final studio album, Code Red.

A version using synonyms from Roget's Thesaurus exists.[5] An anonymous astronomy parody, quoted in Violent Universe by Nigel Calder (BBC, 1969), refers to pulsars and quasars. A different version of this parody attributed to George Gamow and Nigel Calder was published in Galaxies in the Universe: An Introduction by Linda Sparke and John Gallagher (Cambridge University Press, 2000 - ISBN 0-521-59740-4).

The Girl Scouts of the USA placed a full page ad in the 19 March 2006 New York Times containing a version of the rhyme that was "resung by science" as part of their "Girls Go Tech" campaign.[6]

Vashti Bunyan, an English singer-songwriter, composed "Lily Pond" based on this tune. It can be found on her 1970 album Just Another Diamond Day. American singer Elizabeth Mitchell covers the song on her 2006 album You Are My Little Bird. New Zealand singer Hayley Westenra covered it on her 2013 album Hushabye.

Video game developer Visceral Games created a version of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" for their 2008 survival-horror video game Dead Space with a sinister and dark theme.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ http://listserv.bccls.org/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind0112B&L=OPERA-L&D=1&P=78015&F=P
  2. ^ a b c M. Cryer, Love Me Tender: The Stories Behind the World's Best-loved Songs (Frances Lincoln, 2009), pp. 83-5.
  3. ^ I. Opie and P. Opie, The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes (Oxford University Press, 1951, 2nd edn., 1997), pp. 397-8.
  4. ^ a b https://archive.org/details/SongStoriesForTheKindergarten
  5. ^ G. Hughes, A history of English words (Wiley-Blackwell, 2000), p. 40.
  6. ^ Girls Go Tech ad at the Wayback Machine (archived September 29, 2011)

External links[edit]