Simple Simon (nursery rhyme)

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This article is about the nursery rhyme. For other uses, see Simple Simon (disambiguation).
"Simple Simon"
Roud #19777
Simple Simon 1 - WW Denslow - Project Gutenberg etext 18546.jpg
William Wallace Denslow's illustrations for Simple Simon, from a 1901 edition of Mother Goose
Written England
Published 1764
Form Nursery rhyme
Writer(s) Traditional
Language English

"Simple Simon" is a popular English language nursery rhyme. It has a Roud Folk Song Index number of 19777.


The rhyme is as follows;

Simple Simon met a pieman,
Going to the fair;
Says Simple Simon to the pieman,
Let me taste your ware.
Says the pieman to Simple Simon,
Show me first your penny;
Says Simple Simon to the pieman,
Indeed I have not any.
Simple Simon went a-fishing,
For to catch a whale;
All the water he had got,
Was in his mother's pail.
Simple Simon went to look
If plums grew on a thistle;
He pricked his fingers very much,
Which made poor Simon whistle.[1]


Simple Simon and the pie man, according to Denslow

The verses used today are the first of a longer chapbook history first published in 1764.[1] The character of Simple Simon may have been in circulation much longer, possibly appearing in an Elizabethan chapbook and in a ballad, Simple Simon's Misfortunes and his Wife Margery's Cruelty, from about 1685.[1] Another possible inspiration was Simon Edy, a beggar in the St Giles area in the 18th century.[2]

In popular culture[edit]

Said the pieman to Simple Simon,
"Show me first your penny."
Said Simple Simon to the pieman,
"Scram! Ya don't get any!"
(And a pie in the face)
  • Another variant of the nursery rhyme was an animated film on Sesame Street.
  • In the film "Die Hard with a Vengeance" (1995), the film's antagonist, Simon Peter Gruber (Jeremy Irons), reads the beginning of the poem to John McClane's (Bruce Willis) boss, Inspector Walter Cobb (Larry Bryggman).
  • In a Bullwinkle's Corner segment of the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, while performing Simple Simon, Bullwinkle and Boris Badenov change into a version of Abbott and Costello's Who's on First sketch.
  • An image of Simple Simon is discussed in Stephen King's novel Needful Things.
  • Simple Simon is mentioned as a character in the video game The Wolf Among Us.
  • The poem is referenced in The Simpsons episode "Simple Simpson" which features Homer Simpson disguising himself as a superhero called "the Pie Man."
  • The 2010 film Simple Simon borrows from a similar premise.
  • In 2013, Polaris produced an internet series called "Simple Simon". The show featured Simon Lane and Lewis Brindley of "The Yogscast", and the show revolved around Simon having to correctly answer questions about a guest. The show referenced the nursery rhyme further by ending each episode With the question of what the guests favorite type of pie is.


  1. ^ a b c I. Opie and P. Opie, The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes (Oxford University Press, 1951, 2nd edn., 1997), pp. 333-4.
  2. ^ Walter Thornbury, Edward Walford (1880), Old and New London: Westminster and the western suburbs Volume 3 of Old and New London: A Narrative of Its History, Its People, and Its Places, Old and New London, Cassell, Petter, & Galpin, p. 207 

External links[edit]