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Old 03-02-2010   #1
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Topic Winner Creepy Nursery Rhyme/Tale of the Day

I cannot think of my childhood without hearing voices, deep, heavily-accented, instructive German voices.

I hear the voice of my father reading to me from Struvelpater, the German children's tale about a messy boy who refuses to cut his hair or his fingernails. Struvelpater's hair grows so long that birds nest in it, and his fingernails become so long that his hands become useless. He fares better, though, than the other characters in the book who don't listen to their parents. Augustus, for instance, refuses to eat soup for four days, becomes as thin as a thread, and on the fifth day he is dead. Fidgety Philip tilts his dinner chair like a rocking horse until his chair falls backwards; the hot food falls on top of him, and suffocates him under the weight of the table cloth. The worst story by far for me is that of Conrad, an incorrigible thumb-sucker, who couldn't stop sucking his thumb and whose mother warned him that a great, long, red-legged scissor-man would--and yes, did--snip both his thumbs off.
"Between the Drafts"
Nancy Sommers
College Composition and Communication, Vol. 43, No. 1 (Feb., 1992), pp. 23-31
(article consists of 9 pages)
Published by: National Council of Teachers of English
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/357362

"...the uncanny is to me the defining trait of this strange and terrible world and our strange and terrible minds." --Thomas Ligotti
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Old 03-02-2010   #2
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Re: Creepy Nursery Rhyme/Tale of the Day

Last night, I read the following excellent review by William Darragh in Fortean Times of the 2009 Oxford University Press edition of the fairy tales of Charles Perrault (1628-1703):


“Charles Perrault benefitted from the policy of promoting common­ers that gradually gave rise to a monarchist meritocracy in Louis XIV’s France. He became an aide to Jean-Baptiste Colbert, the emotionally frozen but driven minister of finance who—despite the king’s lunatic extravagance—brought France back from the edge of bankruptcy. The first Moral of “Puss in Boots,” as Betts points out in his excellent introduction, could have been written with the author in mind: “Young men, when all is said and done / Will find sharp wits and commonsense / Worth more than an inheritance.” After Colbert’s death, he put his considerable energies into the newly instituted Académie Française. He was critical of class­ical education, and believed that European myths were as valuable as their Roman and Greek equival­ents. This, and his convict­ion that children should receive a moral education from such tales, led to the first Contes.

Perrault’s tales are the stuff of kiddie nightmares (incest, murder, sexual abuse, cannibalism and abandonment), with an improving Moral coming right after the ‘happy ever after’ ending which, itself, comes after the deaths of various minor characters or the protagonist’s drawn-out miseries.

Bruno Bettelheim theorised that fairy tales are psychodramas that enable children to process and overcome their very real fears. “Hop o’ My Thumb”, the tale of children abandoned because their parents could not feed them, had a certain plaus­ibility at a time when the first of two massive famines was devastating the country; two million died in just over a decade. The threat of being eaten appears in several tales. Little Red Riding Hood, who in Perrault’s version does not survive the encounter with her grandmother’s killer, also warns against sexually predatory adults. The wolf, with his impressively large parts, lying ‘naked’ in her grandmother’s bed, hardly needs a Freud to untangle the meaning; and in any case, the Moral warns that nice girls can be “…caught/ By wolves who take them off to eat”. “Donkey-Skin” (510B in the Aarne-Thompsdon-Uther system which groups similar tales and enables one to examine, for instance, Staporola’s, Basile’s and the Grimm Brothers’ variants) is the tale of a widower who wants to marry his daughter; the Moral concludes, in a slightly ‘hey, what can you do?’ way, that “…love deranged defies all sense /Against it, reason is a poor defence”. Even if you accept that children love fairy tales’ gorier aspects, this is top-shelf stuff and – pace Bettelheim – not totally cathartic.

This is a new translation by Christopher Betts, and it’s magnificent. The verse and the later prose tales leap off the page, as do the wonderful Doré illustrations. The spread of the ogre cutting his daughters’ throats (complete with bird carcass on the bedding) is particularly striking. In addition to the fine introduction, there are notes and appendixes. Even if the fruit of your loins is a brutal little thug, this is definitely a book for adults.”



Hope this will be of interest to you!
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Old 03-02-2010   #3
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Re: Creepy Nursery Rhyme/Tale of the Day

Quote Originally Posted by Daisy View Post
Hope this will be of interest to you!
Indeed, this looks fantastic--a potentially creepy-kiddy gold mine! Many thanks, Daisy!

"...the uncanny is to me the defining trait of this strange and terrible world and our strange and terrible minds." --Thomas Ligotti
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Old 03-02-2010   #4
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Re: Creepy Nursery Rhyme/Tale of the Day

Something for parents to sing to their children at bedtime:
There was a man of double deed
Sowed his garden full of seed.
And when that seed began to grow
'Twas like a garden full of snow.
When the snow began to melt
'Twas like a ship without a belt.
When the ship began to sail
'Twas like a bird without a tail.
When the bird began to fly
'Twas like an eagle in the sky.
When the sky began to roar
'Twas like a lion at the door.
When the door began to crack
'Twas like a stick across my back.
When my back began to smart
'Twas like a penknife in my heart.
When my heart began to bleed
'Twas death and death and death indeed.
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Old 03-02-2010   #5
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Re: Creepy Nursery Rhyme/Tale of the Day

Excellent, Viva June! Never seen or heard that one!

I'll see your rhyme and raise you this old chestnut:
Oranges and lemons,
Say the bells of St. Clement's

You owe me five farthings,
Say the bells of St. Martin's

When will you pay me?
Say the bells of Old Bailey.

When I grow rich,
Say the bells of Shoreditch.

When will that be?
Say the bells of Stepney

I do not know,
Says the great bell of Bow

Here comes a candle to light you to bed
And here comes a chopper to chop off your head!
or--heck, why not--how 'bout this one:
Ladybird, ladybird fly away home,
Your house is on fire and your children are gone,
All except one,
And her name is Ann,
And she hid under the baking pan.

So much for one rhyme/tale "of the day"!

"...the uncanny is to me the defining trait of this strange and terrible world and our strange and terrible minds." --Thomas Ligotti
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Old 03-02-2010   #6
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Re: Creepy Nursery Rhyme/Tale of the Day

I wrote this in 1967:Wordhunger

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Old 03-02-2010   #7
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Re: Creepy Nursery Rhyme/Tale of the Day

Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Locrian View Post
Excellent, Viva June! Never seen or heard that one!
I shan't invade this thread with talk of Current 93, but it's the song "Panzer Ruin (In the Hands of Gillespie)" from the Looney Runes ep, rereleased on then SixSixSix: SickSickSick compilation of Current 93 ep's. It's probably some kind of traditional, or a reworking of one, though. That's my guess, at least.
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Old 03-02-2010   #8
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Re: Creepy Nursery Rhyme/Tale of the Day

It is indeed a traditional rhyme. My source is Al Alvarez, who quotes it in The Savage God: A Study of Suicide. I have never heard that particular C93 song.
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Old 03-02-2010   #9
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Re: Creepy Nursery Rhyme/Tale of the Day

'The door flew open, in he ran,
The great, long, red-legged scissor-man.
Oh! children, see! the tailor's come
And caught out little Suck-a-Thumb.'



That is simply terrifying.
-Jimmy

"The scientists of today think deeply instead of clearly. One must be sane to think clearly, but one can think deeply and be quite insane."

-Nikola Tesla, July of 1934
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Old 03-02-2010   #10
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Re: Creepy Nursery Rhyme/Tale of the Day

Just look at him! There he stands,
With his nasty hair and hands.
See! his nails are never cut;
They are grim'd as black as soot;
And the sloven, I declare,
Never once has comb'd his hair;
Any thing to me is sweeter
Than to see Shock-headed Peter.

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