Georgie Porgie

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A Victorian musical setting and illustration of the rhyme

"Georgie Porgie" is a popular English language nursery rhyme. It has a Roud Folk Song Index number of 19532.

Lyrics[edit]

Originally the lyrics were:

Georgie Porgie, pudding and pie,
Kissed the girls and made them cry,
When the boys came out to play,
Georgie Porgie ran away.

Origins and variations[edit]

The earliest printed appearance of the rhyme was in The Kentish Coronal (1841), where it was described as an "old ballad" with the name spelled "Georgy Peorgy".[1] This version was later illustrated by Kate Greenaway in 1881,[2] and a Cheshire dialect version was quoted in 1887 with the variant "picklety pie" in place of "pudding and pie".[3]

James Orchard Halliwell did not record the words in his collection of The nursery rhymes of England, but in the fifth edition of 1853 he included a variant:

Rowley Powley, pumpkin pie,
Kissed the girls and made them cry;
When the girls begin to cry,
Rowley Powley runs away.[4]

Among children the verse has been used as a rhyming taunt for boys called George, or else of fat boys. It is also used to harass a boy who is considered not sufficiently manly, either because he is thought to fancy a girl, or (with a switch of sexes in line two) who is accused of being homosexually inclined.[5] It can also be used to tease a girl who fancies a boy, where, with other appropriate changes, she is addressed as "Rosie Posie".[6]

Peter and Iona Opie mention various conjectures that link the character Georgie Porgie to British historical figures, including King George I and George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham, but without the slightest evidence,[7] and such unsubstantiated claims have been copied in other works of reference to this day.

Musical versions[edit]

The rhyme was included in National Nursery Rhymes (London, 1870), a volume illustrated by George Dalziel and Edward Dalziel, where the words were set to music by James William Elliott.[8] And in 1885 they were set as a part song by the Canadian composer Joseph Gould under his musical pseudonym, Spencer Percival.[9][10]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Kentish coronal, original prose and poetry by persons connected with the county of Kent, ed. by H.G. Adams, p.44
  2. ^ Barbara A. Kissinger, Mother Goose of Yesteryear, Pelican 2008, p.21
  3. ^ Thomas Darlington, The Folk-speech of South Cheshire, English Dialect Society (1887), p.12
  4. ^ Section 14, Love and Matrimony, rhyme 488, p.248
  5. ^ N. G. N. Kelsey, Games, Rhymes, and Wordplay of London Children, Palgrave Macmillan 2019, pp.501-2
  6. ^ I. Kroupova, IS MU diploma thesis 2015, p.10
  7. ^ The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes (Oxford University Press, 2nd edition, 1997), pp.185–6
  8. ^ Online copy available at the University of Florida, p.61
  9. ^ The score is preserved at McGill University
  10. ^ A modern performance on Good Night, Good Night, Beloved! and other Victorian part songs, Atma Classique 2012