Have you ever noticed how some nursery rhymes are quite violent?
For example: Rock a bye baby on the tree top
When the wind blows the cradle will rock
When the bow breaks, the cradle will fall
And down will come baby, cradle and all.
THAT'S AWFUL! Why on earth would a baby be sleeping in a tree and for heavens sake- why oh why would someone make up a song that has a baby falling from a tree??? So while this had me thinking I decided to google this song and try to find some background on it. Here's what I found: This lullaby reflects the view of a young pilgrim boy watching a Native American mother suspend a cradle from a birch tree so that the wind can rock the baby to sleep. If the wind blows to hard then the cradle could be blown down. Don't believe me, here's the link.
What about Peter Pumpkin Eater? Here's thy rhyme:
Peter Peter Pumpkin eater
Had a wife but couldn't keep her
Put her in a pumpkin shell and there he kept her very well
Okay so obviously this guy likes eating pumpkins or something... and he's married but for some reason he can't keep her. What does that mean? Does that mean he can't keep her as his wife because she's a flirtatious hussy, is he a weak man being overcome by some superhero-strengthened wife? Did he win her in a contest, but then the contest judge found out he cheated so he has to give her back? Did she cheat on him and so he "took care of her" and then put her body in a pumpkin shell ( a bit dark though). Hmm well lets see:
So this guy named Peter had a wandering wife (scandalous for a nursery rhyme) so he pretty much imprisoned her in a pumpkin shell (some people think this means a chastity belt) and then his problems went away. Oh- but lo and behold I found more this this nursery rhyme that we don't normally sing:
Peter Peter Pumpkin eater
Had another and didn't love her
Peter learned to read and spell
And then he loved her very well.
So what I'm getting from this extra verse is that perhaps Peter was ticked off at his wife for her wandering ways, so he himself found "comfort" elsewhere. My italics imply scandalous behavior. Back to Peter, so he didn't love this other woman but when he learned to read and spell (like a good little lad) he loved her very well...who's HER? Let's find out from the Internets.
So this rhyme suggests that Peter moved on and got another wife, perhaps killing his first hussy of a ball and chain (gasp!). But Peter has trouble loving this wife, maybe he was more attached to his first wife than he originally thought. There's some scandalous ideas behind the pumpkins significance that I will let you read about on your own since this blog typically tries to stay PG. But it looks like Peter couldn't keep up with his second wife because she was smarter than him so he put forth an effort to better himself (keep this one in mind gentleman) and learned to read and spell and then they matched each other intellectually and were able to love each other.