Through the Air on a Very Fine Gander

Gems from Mother Goose


Bringing joy to the ear and delight to the soul, the rhymes of Mother Goose have been amusing children of all ages for countless generations. Heard first in infancy, they remain forever in memory. The origins of some lie in antiquity; the origins of others, in the first stanzas of folk ballads. Lighthearted and silly on the surface, the rhymes nonetheless have been the subject of much study, from scholars who delve into their roots in global storytelling and lullaby traditions to those who seek the identity of the “real” Mother Goose, convinced that she can be located in history. In jest and with all due seriousness of purpose, many have sought to find a female figure with a name approximating “goose,” pointing to such historically disparate figures as the medieval Bertrada, Queen Goosefoot, the mother of Charlemagne, and Elisabeth Vergoose, whose son-in-law Thomas Fleet, a colonial-era Boston printer, was long erroneously credited as the first to publish Mother Goose. Finding proof of such speculations about the authorship of these delightful rhymes had the same probability of success as all the king’s horses and all the king’s men putting Humpty Dumpty together again, and so the “author” of most of these traditional verses will likely remain anonymous.


Disparate Figure Nursery Rhyme Traditional Verse Narrative Version Moral Tale 
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© Princeton Architectural Press 2005

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