Simple Simon (nursery rhyme)

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"Simple Simon"
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
Nursery rhyme

"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]
He went for water in a sieve
But soon it all fell through
And now poor Simple Simon
Bids you all adieu![2]


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.[3]

In popular culture[edit]

  • Animation studio Comicolor produced an animated short based on the rhyme in 1935 titled Simple Simon. The short focuses mostly on an expanded version of Simon's encounter with the Pie Man and his visit to the fair, and also adds a pet goose to the cast. The short was directed by animator Ub Iwerks.
  • UK 1970s children's programme Daisy Daisy featured a regular animated segment about Simple Simon who in each episode is bullied by antagonists The Meanies only to be rescued by the Pieman who defeats and humiliates the Meanies by throwing custard pies at them.
  • The poem is briefly (and stutteringly) recited in the Merrie Melodies animated short I Love to Singa.
  • Three Stooges: Moe and Shemp Howard performed a slapstick version of the poem's first two stanzas in the 1948 Stooges short Fiddler's Three, complete with humorously-mangled last line.[4]
  • Batman faces a villain named Simple Simon in 1961's issue 139. This Simple Simon commits crimes by using variations of the nursery rhyme as distractions, including purchasing all of a pie man's wares and fishing an inflatable whale out of a pail. He is eventually captured while attempting to flee over ice that will not bare his weight.
  • Rocky and Bullwinke: In one of the show's Bullwinkle's Corner segments, Bullwinkle portrays Simon in a retelling of the poem, with Boris Badenov portraying the Pie Man. When the former tells the latter, "Let me taste your ware!" the latter responds, "My what?" and the skit continues as a variation of the famous Abbott and Costello routine "Who's on First?".


  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. ^
  3. ^ 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
  4. ^

External links[edit]