Goosey Goosey Gander

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"Goosey Goosey Gander"
Roud #6488
Written by Traditional
Published 1784
Written England
Language English
Form Nursery rhyme

"Goosey Goosey Gander" is an English-language nursery rhyme. It has a Roud Folk Song Index number of 6488.

Lyrics[edit]

The most common modern version of the lyrics is:

Goosey goosey gander,
Whither shall I wander?
Upstairs and downstairs
And in my lady's chamber.
There I met an old man
Who wouldn't say his prayers,
So I took him by his left leg
And threw him down the stairs.[1]

Alternative versions[edit]

The earliest recorded version of this rhyme is in Gammer Gurton's Garland or The Nursery Parnassus published in London in 1784. Like most early versions of the rhyme it does not include the last four lines:

Goose-a goose-a gander,
Where shall I wander?
Up stairs and down stairs,
In my lady's chamber;
There you'll find a cup of sack
And a race of ginger.[1]

Some versions have the additional concluding lines:

The stairs went crack,
He nearly broke his back.
And all the little ducks went,
'Quack, quack, quack'.[2]

Iona and Peter Opie note records of a separate rhyme referring to the Crane fly recorded from about 1780, which they suggest may have been amalgamated with this rhyme in the early nineteenth century:

Old father Long-Legs
Can't say his prayers:
take him by the left leg,
And throw him downstairs.[1]

According to amateur historian Chris Roberts, the rhyme is heavily linked to the propaganda campaign against the Catholic Church during the reign of King Henry VIII.[3] However, there is no corroborative evidence to support this claim.

Cultural references[edit]

Books[edit]

Television[edit]

  • In Sapphire and Steel Adventure 1 (1979), Rob, a young boy, is forced to recite a snippet of the rhyme. The show gives the rhyme's origin as from the time of the English Civil war, and mentions Parliamentarian Roundheads doing door-to-door searches for hiding Royalists and evidence of Royalist sympathisers.[citation needed]
  • The last episode of the 1971-75 British TV series "Upstairs, Downstairs" is titled "Whither shall I wander?", while the subsequent verse of the rhyme, "Upstairs and downstairs", recalls the title of the series.[citation needed]

Movies[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c I. Opie and P. Opie, The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes (Oxford University Press, 1951, 2nd edn., 1997), pp. 191-2.
  2. ^ Kear, Janet (2010). Man and Wildfowl. T & AD Poyser Ltd. ISBN 978-1-4081-3762-8. Retrieved 2012-01-13. 
  3. ^ C. Roberts, Heavy words lightly thrown: the reason behind the rhyme (Granta, 2004), p. 23.
  4. ^ Herd, David (2005-11-12). "Attention, shoppers". The Guardian. Retrieved 2012-03-02.