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Good old Anglo Saxon nursery rhymes

The only thing the American robin (Turdus migratorius) and the original robin redbreast (Erithacus rubecula) have in common is red feathers. They are otherwise completely different birds. The American robin is a sort of big thrush; the British robin is one of those tiny round puffball bastards, like a chickadee.

The robin was once voted Britain’s favorite bird. He’s a cheeky, aggressive little sod, often pictured perching on the handle of a garden spade. Because, apparently, he’ll fly down and do that if you’ve been turning earth, to check if you’ve dug up any worms.

He’s also one of the few songbirds that overwinters in the UK. Very confusing to an American, all the robins on Christmas cards.

Anyhoo, I just ran across this: the nursery rhyme “Little Robin Red breast” boasts an unusual number of variations. The reason? Trying to get around the original last line:

Little Robin Red breast,
Sitting on a pole,
Nidde, Noddle, Went his head.
And poop went his Hole.

So. There you go.


Comment from S. Weasel
Time: January 31, 2012, 10:52 pm

This site claims “poop” meant fart at the time.

Sweasel.com: the things you need to know.

Comment from Mike James
Time: January 31, 2012, 10:56 pm

I’ll bet it sounds a lot more dirty and arousing in the original German. Germans are into that kind of shit.

Comment from Mitchell TAFKAEY
Time: January 31, 2012, 11:38 pm

Robins are not to be found in The Expurgated Version of Olsen’s Standard Book of British Birds.

Comment from guffaw
Time: February 1, 2012, 2:41 am

Better than vice-versa!

Comment from SCOTTtheBADGER
Time: February 1, 2012, 5:53 am

That’s because the foul thier nests.

Comment from JeffS
Time: February 1, 2012, 7:23 am

Is this were “flipping the bird” came from?

Comment from Steamboat McGoo
Time: February 1, 2012, 8:38 am

Man, I was gonna stay away from this subject, but I read your link, Stoaty!

So if “poop” originally meant “butt”, how does one explain “poop deck”? A deck where one falls down a lot?

And as for poop meaning “breaking wind backwards”, … well, is there any other way?

I’m completely confused – a not-unpleasant (or unfamiliar) state of affairs, I must admit.

Thank you!

Comment from Some Vegetable
Time: February 1, 2012, 12:40 pm

Ahhhh, the good old days, when brave Sir Robin could do what he does best without embarassment.

Seriously, has anyone else ever read any of the OLD brothers Grimm stories? Those were pretty brutal till they got softened up by some right-thinking lady (she did it for the children sometime in the late 1800’s) I vividly remember one story in which, at the end, someone was punished by rolling them down a hill, inside a cask which was studded with nails pounded facing inwards

Comment from Becca
Time: February 1, 2012, 2:23 pm

Some Veg: Yup, I’ve read them. My favorite was the version of “Cinderella” where the step-sisters sliced off parts of their feet to make them fit the slipper.

Of course, the blood running out the shoe alerted the Prince each time, along with a bird (or some woodland creature)screeching a rhyme to him “Look back, there’s blood on the track…”

Gruesome, wonderful stuff that.

Comment from David Gillies
Time: February 1, 2012, 2:41 pm

In Snow White, the wicked stepmother is forced to dance in a pair of red-hot iron shoes until she dies. And Sleeping Beauty/Little Red Riding Hood et al. play on fears of young girls being deflowered. Awesome.

Comment from Deborah
Time: February 1, 2012, 2:48 pm

I really should quit saying, “I’m pooped” when I mean, “I’m tired.”

Comment from Bob Mulroy
Time: February 1, 2012, 7:12 pm

The poop deck is the aft deck of a sailing vessel. Normally it’s the roof of a raised structure.

“Pooped” is when a large wave breaks over the poopdeck. An event that gets many new sailors rethinking their love of the sea.

Our local yard has hundreds of slightly-used bluewater sailboats.

Comment from sandman says:nothing to see here…
Time: February 1, 2012, 7:19 pm

Little Robin Do Rag,
Kickin it in a Caddie,
Best have you a gat,
You can’t run fat, Fatty.

Comment from Mrs. Hill
Time: February 1, 2012, 11:16 pm

I’m glad Robin has a rhyme where he doesn’t die!

I wonder if there’s a Walter Potter tableau for this one, perhaps with a tiny bellows?

Comment from Sven in Colorado
Time: February 2, 2012, 2:30 am

Thrush robins here depart for only a very few weeks. Seems like they are gone for the last of Advent, the Christmas season and Epiphany. Then they send scouts… seeking worms and grubs in the half-frozen river beds.

I saw the first pair today… not quite certain why they were here, amidst the winter juncos and chickadees and sparrows. Here where the hard frozen earth belies the short heat at midday. Here where the quick green rise of rye and grass and parsley turn to black in the hard frost most every night. For here comes February, cruel February.

Lord, how I dislike February….cruel February. Might be the shortest month, yet it parses out the cold day to day. It poke these old bones and joints what ne’er sleep well, waiting… waiting for sweet and fluid Pisces, sister to my Scorpio.

Lent comes…That I understand and embrace.

This short season is ne’er short enough. Cold and calculating each wretched short day and long wicked night.


Comment from iamfelix
Time: February 22, 2012, 12:22 am

Ha ha ha ha …. Second time I looked @this, and both times when I read the words immediately heard Warren Zevon singing, “He’ll pull your lungs out, Jim.”

Comment from Kamagr De
Time: May 29, 2012, 3:22 pm

She is very beautiful. We do not.

Comment from cialis
Time: October 22, 2012, 8:03 pm

Indeed songbird… good photo 🙂

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Time: October 14, 2013, 2:57 pm

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