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Alphabe Thursday … T is for Tom, Tom

October 2, 2014



tom tom

Tom, Tom the piper’s son,

Stole a pig and away he run;

The pig was eat

And Tom was beat,

And Tom went howling down the street.


Children are often concerned about the stolen pig being eaten immediately. It would seem modern illustrators depict the scene incorrectly. The pig was not a live one but a sweetmeat model sold by a street hawker, as it is narrated in chapbooks.

The man would make pigs from paste and filled their bellies with currants and added two in the head for eyes.  

Vendors of such pigs were common in the 18th century and their street cry  became a nursery song.


A long tail’d pig,

Or, a short tail’d pig,

Or a pig without any tail,

A boar pig, or a sow pig,

Or a pig with a curly tail.

Take hold of the tail and eat off his head;

and then you’ll be sure the pig hog is dead.

alphabet thursday


16 Comments leave one →
  1. beckyhelps permalink
    October 2, 2014 8:09 am

    Sounds pretty gross to me, even if it is a song about a pastry. 😦

    • October 2, 2014 8:28 am

      Pretty much as nursery rhymes go it seems xx

      • beckyhelps permalink
        October 2, 2014 8:35 am

        It is the way kids play out a horrible environment, to make a creative rhyme from the horrors and pass it on to others.
        Ring o ring o roses… (a pocket full of flowers ain’t gonna help with this disease)
        Oranges and lemons (beware people take you in the night)
        The grand old duke of York (people in power are pompous idiots that make you do stupid things)
        Kids are so creative and yet still able to have as much fun in the moment as possible.

      • October 2, 2014 9:09 am

        I hadn’t thought of it that way … power to the children 🙂

  2. October 2, 2014 1:06 pm

    Just plain weird.

  3. October 2, 2014 3:42 pm

    Another fun post with vintage poetry ~ Happy Week to you!

    artmusedog and carol (A Creative Harbor)

  4. October 2, 2014 9:25 pm

    Never knew about sweetmeat pigs…

  5. October 3, 2014 2:18 am

    First time hearing this one I think. I am surprised too, to be honest. Generally I know the rhymes that you post. Thanks for the intro!

    • October 3, 2014 7:06 am

      I remember it well … but thought he ran away with a pink pig not a little pastry thing .. not so daring!!

  6. October 3, 2014 5:57 am

    After all these decades, I’m glad to know that it wasn’t a live pig Tom stole. Now, I’m wondering if Tom knows Simon.

    • October 3, 2014 7:07 am

      I reckon so … those poor starving kids … having cunning ways to steal a bit food!!

  7. October 6, 2014 5:15 am

    I had never heard this interpretation. very interesting.

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