There was a crooked man

What the Hell?

My old buddy Clarence Ragan stopped by for a visit this morning and we discussed a veritable parade of things — letterpress printing (of course), old books, and bindings, and art, and Bill Watterson, the upcoming Mississinewa 1812, and whatnot. The subject of our mutually aching backs came up — his from advanced age (he’s 83) and mine from a wee bit of a tumble I took yesterday (though I’m no spring chicken either) — when Clarence recited an old nursery rhyme — “The Old Crooked Man”.

I remembered it well from my youth, but then he asked if I was familiar with the full poem. I had to admit I was not. He said he hadn’t been either, but that his daughter recently shared it with him. As I listened to him recite it, I was stunned.

Here it is now, in full —


Now, we discussed this poem when I was in college during a course in Children’s’ Lit, but this beastie never came up in its entirety. I know that the poem represents the unification of England and Scotland. Reading it now, in its full glory, it all makes so much more sense now.


One Response to “There was a crooked man”

  1. Emerald Says:

    I do know, that my English teacher in 6th grade went over this with us. Sadly the only thing I can really remember is the fact that it does talk about England and Scotland. The crooked ma was King Henry of England (I don’t remember which one though.) and the wife was Marry of Scotland. I hope this helps.^-^

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