Monday, January 3, 2011

I had a little nut tree......

..and nothing would it bare,
But a sliver nutmeg,
And a golden pear.
The King of Spain's daughter
Came to visit me,
All for the sake
Of my little nut tree.

I skipped over the water,
I skipped over the sea,
And all the birds in the air
Couldn't catch me.



  1. your words have charmed me, completely, had to read them 3 times.

    I feel amazed when I look at your wonderful pencil sketch and then more so when I see the finished piece.

  2. Not my words, Tammie. These are all nursery rhymes. They have been handed down from generation to generation usualy amoung the working classes and some reach back to medieval times. There are two or three versions for the origins of this one. One is that Henry VII was seeking a bride in the mad daughter of the Spanish King, another that it refered to one of the Charles's who was unable to father a legitimate child. I love nursery rhymes.

  3. The rhyme is neither charming nor cute, but politically ironic in origin, like most nursery rhymes. This one refers to the arrangement to marry the Spanish princess Catherine of Aragon (who was by no means mad) to Prince Arthur (the elder son of Henry VII) and his failure to perform in the marital bed. Other cutesy 'nursery rhymes' originating in the Tudor/Stuart period include 'Four & Twenty Blackbirds' (ref. the decapitation of Anne Boleyn)'Little Jack Horner' (ref. a contemporary Fat Cat trying to cream off from the Dissolution of the Monasteries) and 'Ring-a-Ring of Roses' which references the Great Plague. Then there's 'Mary, Mary, quite contrary ..' - a snide Protestant reference to Catholic Mary Stuart ..... Not so beautiful, but life as it was: viz. people wanting to comment on the activities of their political masters but afraid to do so overtly. (So, whats new?)

  4. There is another thought that it refers to Juana of Castile. I do love them so for their conections back through history, the way they have survived despite not being written and for their wickedness.

  5. I often wonder about the sources for some of the nursery rhymes. Every time I see the English officials like Lord Mayors and such in procession with their nosegays, I think of the belief that illness was caused by "bad air" and that smelling flowers would prevent illnesses (pocket full of posies). Of course, from a practical standpoint, the bouquets would smell so much better than the medieval streets!

    When I was looking at your ship, the pennants caught my attention. That's when it struck me that the pennants would blow out in the direction of the wind, which would be toward the bow, not toward the stern -- something that had never occurred to me before. Kind of a DUH! moment for me. . .

    I like how the long diagonal of the ship's sails leads down to the boy standing on the wharf. I also like the moon and the castle. (The whole bit about the nut tree, the nutmeg and the pear always struck me as rather "nudge, nudge" "wink wink")