Sing a song of six
pence a pocket full of rye,
Four and twenty
blackbirds, baked in a pie
When the pie was
opened, the birds began to sing
Wasn't that a dainty
dish to put before a king?
The maid was in the
Hanging out the
When down came a
And pecked off her
Pretend to take the child's nose by putting your index & middle
fingers over their nose. Next, put your thumb between those
fingers to make it look as if you have taken the child's nose.
After visiting your wonderfully
detailed site I now realize the above song is not necessarily a proverb,
although it should be, for it is telling some lesson of the past times.
The story is one that gets me wondering,
1) why did a pocket full of rye
cost 6 pence in ???? whatever date the tune was written?
2) What significance do the 4
and 20 Black Birds represent in a pie made in Denmark? a dainty
dish, (a joke?)
3) Why did the poor maid get her
nose snipped off by a "Black Bird" while hanging out the
Who were the king and Queen at the
time and I'm sure they were robbing the people with taxes which probably
brings Robin Hood into the picture. But thats another story.
A response would be nice but not necessary and Thank You for being out
there. ALAN HEIGHT, Florida Boy
Bibi's Comment: Thank you
for your delightful email. I don't know the origin of the nursery
rhyme, but rhymes were used to convey news from village to village, so I
imagine that either a pretend pie was filled with live song-birds as a
novelty, or that a crow pie was undercooked. (Mind you, were it
the latter, they would hardly come out singing - more like cracking on
alarming!) On reflection, the fact that a crow might have pecked a
maid's nose, doesn't surprise me. Crows often attack small animals,
rabbits, etc. to see if they are strong enough to fight them off;
I have actually seen this happen. Attacks can go on for 15 minutes
or so and usually involve more than one bird. Can't tell you
anything about the rye, but it was probably the going rate.