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Goosey, Goosey Gander

Goosey, Goosey Gander

“Goosey Goosey Gander” is a well known traditional rhyme dating back to the late 18th century, still in circulation although perhaps losing favors because some of its imagery is not considered quite right for today’s children.

Although there is no exact evidence of this, it is believed that the origins of “Goosey Goosey Gander” dates back to the 16th century, during King Henry VII’s reign, and it was used as propaganda of the Protestants against the Catholic Church.

Historically speaking, this rhyme seems to have less textual cohesion than most nursery rhymes, and there is evidence that this standard modern text is actually two older rhymes spliced together. The first four lines are quoted in 1784, and first printed c.1790, while the last four are of similar age but are often found in a traditional rhyme addressed to the crane fly.

 

“Goosey Goosey Gander” Lyrics

Goosey goosey gander,
Whither shall I wander?
Upstairs and downstairs
And in my lady’s chamber.
There I met an old man
Who wouldn’t say his prayers,
So I took him by his left leg
And threw him down the stair

“Goosey Goosey Gander” Original Version

Goose-a goose-a gander,
Where shall I wander?
Up stairs and down stairs,
In my lady’s chamber;
There you’ll find a cup of sack
And a race of ginger

An another version have the additional concluding lines:

The stairs went crack,
He nearly broke his back.
And all the little ducks went,
‘Quack, quack, quack

‘Iona and Peter Opie’ note records of a separate rhyme referring to the ‘Crane fly’ recorded from about 1780, which they suggest may have been amalgamated with this rhyme in the early nineteenth century:

Old father Long-Legs
Can’t say his prayers:
take him by the left leg,
And throw him downstairs