Monday, September 10, 2012

Mother Goose Jokes

Historically, *boys have long since been associated with snips and snails, and puppy dog tails, that's what little boys have been associated with; while girls, have been associated with sugar and spice and all things nice, that's what little girls have been associated with - as seen in this Mother Goose poem:


What are little boys made of?
Snips and snails
and puppy-dogs' tails,
That's what little boys are made of.

What are little girls made of?
Sugar and spice
And everything nice,
That's what little girls are made of.

~Origin: Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes
19th Century


The authoress of these beloved nursery rhymes was first referenced by name in French writings. In sixteenth century English writings, Edmund Spenser published his satire "Mother Hubbard's tale" (1590), which does reference a similar archetypical country woman, indicating that the character had long-since been in circulation. 
French writings. 
Guy de la Brosse, in his 1628 work "De la nature, vertu et utilite de plantes (On nature, virtue and the utility of plants)", mentions "contes de la mère l'Oye" (stories of Mother Goose). In 1638, in Pieces Curieves en suite de celles by Sieur de S. Germain, Mother Goose is mentioned: "toute ce que je fais imprimer dans mes Gazettes passe desormais pour des contes de ma mère l'oye, et des fables du moisne Bourry pour amuser le peuple...(all that I print in my magazines are tales from Mother Goose, and fables by Bourry to amuse the people)". This indicates that "Mother Goose" had long-since been popularized. 

Later in Jean Lorent's La Muse Histoirque, collected in 1650, he states comme un conte de la Mère Oye ( a Mother Goose story), indicating, again, that these stories had been in circulation for quite some time.

Much like the International Nyan Cats, jokes, like YouTube videos, are remixed according to changing tastes and popular culture as well as the innate desire to participate or be part of a community. 


Old Mother Hubbard and Mother Goose belong to a community of archetypical country women who enjoy passing along wisdom to younger audience via tales, riddles, poetry and short stories. What these tales have in common is their underlining sense of community, of belonging, and how we as an evolving species continue to pass along information - for better or worse.
Jokes, much like folktales, short stories, and poems (in many cases jokes do take these forms), are expressions of community.
While some people complain about "Old Jokes", philosophically, they don't exist... (i.e., there is no such thing as a Joe Miller joke).  What we have are global concepts being remixed for newer audiences, in the form of poetry, nursery rhymes, or YouTube remixes...
In this sense, jokes belong to the world community, which is one of the reasons humor is best when shared.
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*Depiction of: Boys

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