One, Two, Buckle My Shoe

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"One, Two, Buckle My Shoe"
1-2 buckle my shoe.jpg
Augustus Hoppin's illustration, published in New York, 1870
Nursery rhyme

"One, Two, Buckle My Shoe" is a popular English language nursery rhyme and counting-out rhyme. It has a Roud Folk Song Index number of 11284.


A common version is given in The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes:

One, two, Buckle my shoe;
Three, four, Knock at the door;
Five, six, Pick up sticks;
Seven, eight, Lay them straight:
Nine, ten, A big fat hen;
Eleven, twelve, Dig and delve;
Thirteen, fourteen, Maids a-courting;
Fifteen, sixteen, Maids in the kitchen;
Seventeen, eighteen, Maids in waiting
Nineteen, twenty, My plate's empty.[1]

Other sources give differing lyrics.[2]

Origins and meaning[edit]

The rhyme is one of many counting-out rhymes. It was first recorded in Songs for the Nursery, published in London in 1805. This version differed beyond the number twelve, with the lyrics:

Thirteen, fourteen, draw the curtain,
Fifteen sixteen, the maid's in the kitchen,
Seventeen, eighteen, she's in waiting,
Nineteen, twenty, my stomach's empty.[1]

A version published five years later in Gammer Gurton's Garland (1810) had the following different lines:

Three, four, Lay down lower ...
Eleven twelve, Who will delve...
Fifteen, sixteen, Maids a-kissing...
Nineteen, twenty, My Belly's empty.[1]
An 1869 endpaper by Walter Crane

According to Henry Bolton, collector of counting rhymes in the 1880s, the rhyme was used in Wrentham, Massachusetts as early as 1780.[1]

Illustrated publications[edit]

The rhyme was sometimes published alone in illustrated editions. That with lithographs by Caroline R. Baillie (Edinburgh, 1857) had an oblong format[3] showing domestic 18th-century interiors.[4] There were also two editions of the rhyme published from London, both illustrated by Walter Crane. The first was a single volume picture-book (John Lane, 1869) with end-papers showing a composite of the 1 – 10 sequence and of the 11 – 20 sequence. It was followed in 1910 by The Buckle My Shoe Picture Book, containing other rhymes too. This had coloured full-page illustrations: composites for lines 1-2 and 3-4, and then one for each individual line.[5]

In America the rhyme was used to help young people learn to count and was also individually published. Of the 21 pages in Hurd and Houghton’s edition, published in New York about 1870, there were ten taken up by Augustus Hoppin’s nonsense drawings.[6] In Old Mother Goose’s Rhymes And Tales (London and New York, 1889) there was only a single page given to the rhyme,[7] illustrated by Constance Haslewood in the style of Kate Greenaway.[8]


  1. ^ a b c d I. Opie and P. Opie, The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes (Oxford University Press, 1951, 2nd edn., 1997), pp. 333-4.
  2. ^ Elizabeth M. Knowles (1999). The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations. Oxford University Press. p. 550. ISBN 978-0-19-860173-9.
  3. ^ Cover at Abe Books
  4. ^ "One two, buckle my shoe" at The Book Press
  5. ^ “Walter Crane, part 1”
  6. ^ The cover drawing
  7. ^ Fine Art America
  8. ^ Leslie McGrath, "Print for Young Readers", in History of the Book in Canada, University of Toronto 2005, Vol.2, p.405