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Alphabe Thursday W is for Old Woman

October 23, 2014

old woman

There was an old woman who lived in a shoe,

She had so many children she didn’t know what to do;

She gave them some broth without any bread;

She whipped them all soundly and put them to bed.


The celebrated inhabitant of the shoe has been identified with several ladies for little reason other than the size of their families, for example Caroline, wife of George II had eight children, and Elizabeth Vergoose of Boston who had six of her own and ten step children.  It is surprising that no one suggested Edward Lear who had twenty-one children.

The rhyme is old and relates to the version in the Infants Institutes (1797)

There was an old woman, and she lived in shoe,

She had so many children she didn’t know what to do.

She crumm’d ’em some porridge without any bread;

And she borrowed a beetle, and she knocked ’em all o’ the head.

Then out went th’ old woman to bespeak ’em a coffin,

And went she went back she found ’em all a-loffeing.

The last word suggests that there is a Shakespearean reference.  So if the rhyme is very old then there may be a folk-lore significance.  The shoe has long been symbolic of a woman until her marriage.  Casting a shoe after a bride when she goes off on her honeymoon is possibly a relic of this, symbolising a fruitful marriage.

alphabet thursday

5 Comments leave one →
  1. October 23, 2014 4:04 pm

    I loved that one as a kid…

  2. October 23, 2014 6:34 pm

    Wonderful post for W ~ classic poem!

    artmusedog and carol (A Creative Harbor)

  3. October 24, 2014 4:21 am

    Takes me back! ❤

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