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Origins: do you know the muffin man

GUEST,laramays@cox.net 09 Apr 05 - 03:37 PM
Peace 09 Apr 05 - 03:40 PM
Peace 09 Apr 05 - 03:48 PM
GUEST 09 Apr 05 - 03:51 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 09 Apr 05 - 04:32 PM
Little Robyn 09 Apr 05 - 09:05 PM
Dave'sWife 09 Apr 05 - 09:58 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 09 Apr 05 - 10:57 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 09 Apr 05 - 10:58 PM
Dave'sWife 09 Apr 05 - 11:06 PM
Tradsinger 10 Apr 05 - 03:12 AM
Sorcha 10 Apr 05 - 03:41 AM
Les in Chorlton 10 Apr 05 - 04:26 AM
Joe Offer 10 Apr 05 - 05:31 AM
dianavan 10 Apr 05 - 05:36 AM
Dave Hanson 10 Apr 05 - 07:00 AM
Dave'sWife 10 Apr 05 - 11:38 AM
GUEST 10 Apr 05 - 12:08 PM
GUEST 10 Apr 05 - 12:37 PM
GUEST 10 Apr 05 - 12:43 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 10 Apr 05 - 02:00 PM
Peace 10 Apr 05 - 03:15 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 11 Apr 05 - 12:29 AM
Azizi 11 Apr 05 - 01:24 AM
Les in Chorlton 11 Apr 05 - 12:31 PM
mandoleer 11 Apr 05 - 03:03 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 11 Apr 05 - 03:30 PM
Azizi 11 Apr 05 - 05:01 PM
Malcolm Douglas 11 Apr 05 - 08:34 PM
GUEST 12 Apr 05 - 01:31 PM
Snuffy 12 Apr 05 - 07:55 PM
pavane 13 Apr 05 - 03:22 AM
GUEST 13 Apr 05 - 04:23 AM
GUEST 13 Apr 05 - 04:37 AM
GUEST 13 Apr 05 - 05:35 AM
GUEST 13 Apr 05 - 09:17 AM
GUEST 13 Apr 05 - 09:21 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 13 Apr 05 - 03:15 PM
GUEST 13 Apr 05 - 03:24 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 13 Apr 05 - 03:48 PM
GUEST,guest 04 Jul 10 - 05:43 PM
GUEST,Phil 05 Jul 10 - 01:28 AM
MGM·Lion 31 Dec 11 - 12:36 AM
GUEST,Peter C 31 Dec 11 - 06:22 AM
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Subject: Origins: do you know the muffin man
From: GUEST,laramays@cox.net
Date: 09 Apr 05 - 03:37 PM

someone suggested this song had a sinister origin. just curious. can't find mention of it anywhere.


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Subject: RE: Origins: do you know the muffin man
From: Peace
Date: 09 Apr 05 - 03:40 PM

Little refresher


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Subject: RE: Origins: do you know the muffin man
From: Peace
Date: 09 Apr 05 - 03:48 PM

Song and contents of this article confused?


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Subject: RE: Origins: do you know the muffin man
From: GUEST
Date: 09 Apr 05 - 03:51 PM

No idea, but Drury Lane was a notorious haunt of prostitues and lowlife.


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Subject: RE: Origins: do you know the muffin man
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 09 Apr 05 - 04:32 PM

Found in many school and scouting songbooks. Appalling!
Muffins, especially covered all over with chocolate, promote happy, sinful thoughts.
For treats, serve Brussels sprouts, parsnips and boiled beets instead.


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Subject: RE: Origins: do you know the muffin man
From: Little Robyn
Date: 09 Apr 05 - 09:05 PM

We have a Morris dance that uses the tune. It's a 4 person stick dance with the musician in the middle.
Robyn


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Subject: RE: Origins: do you know the muffin man
From: Dave'sWife
Date: 09 Apr 05 - 09:58 PM

Do You Know The Muffin Man?

Oh, do you know the muffin man,
The muffin man, the muffin man,
Oh, do you know the muffin man
That lives on Drury Lane?

Oh, yes, I know the muffin man,
The muffin man, the muffin man,
Oh, yes I know the muffin man
That lives on Drury Lane.

Now two of us know the muffin man,
The muffin man, the muffin man,
Now two of us know the muffin man
That lives on Drury Lane.

Now we know the muffin man,
The muffin man, the muffin man,
Now we know the muffin man
That lives on Drury Lane.



As soon as I saw this thread, I too was reminded of the 'satanic panic' TV movie from CBS which starred Pam Dawber as a horrified mommie who discovers her kids had been sanred by a Satanic Child abuse ring via his daycare center. I don't know ANYTHING about the origins of this song beyond that we sang it as kids to a particular patty-cake game.

Lt. Michael Aquino (USAF Retired) was accused of being involved in the Presido chilkd abuse case which is mentioned in the TV Movie. His letter about the subject is pretty eloquent. He might be a creepy looking guy who runs a Neo-pagan church, but I sincerely doubt he had any role in the Presido Affair. He got dragged into it because of his expertise in Psycholigical Warfare and his personal eccentricities. DIdn't help that his wifes name is Lilith! He heads a group called The Temple of Set (TOS for short)and was once affiliated with Anton La Vey.

That Aquino was so public about his oppostion to the irresponsible nature of that TV Movie is most likely the reason why people associate sinister origins to the song. That and the fact that the film of the same name is about Ritual Satanaic Abuse or SRA for short.

Of course, maybe there is some deep and dark origin to The Muffin Man,   I'm sure another Mudcatte will tell us if there's anything to it!


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Subject: RE: Origins: do you know the muffin man
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 09 Apr 05 - 10:57 PM

In one of the Scouting songs, he lives on Gingerbread Lane. In another, he lives on Cherry Lane.

Iona and Peter Opie, "The Singing Game." pp. 379-382, discuss this old ring game, which is found "in a manuscript addition to Douce Adds 134(8) no. 3, ca. 1820, in the Bodleian Library."

Don't you know the Muffin-man
And don't you know his name
And don't you know the muffin-man
That lives in Drury Lane?

Frank Bellow described the game in the "Art of Amusing," 1866, in which "An officer in the Guards, genus Swell, 'pwoposed that we should play the Muffin Man"... "'Oh, it's vewy jolly, I asshua yaw. We all sit wound in a wing, yaw know, and one of us, yaw know, sings-
Do yaw know the muffin man,
Do yaw know his name,
Do yaw know the muffin man,
That lives in Cwumpet Lane.'"
And so on.
The Opies, p. 380.


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Subject: RE: Origins: do you know the muffin man
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 09 Apr 05 - 10:58 PM

The animated film "Sheik" (sic) by Disney (?????)

Sincerely,
Gargoyle


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Subject: RE: Origins: do you know the muffin man
From: Dave'sWife
Date: 09 Apr 05 - 11:06 PM

The Muffin Man in Shrek II does live on Drury Lane and he mixes up a huge Golum like Gingerbread man who helps Shrek storm the castle. It was a clever moment.


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Subject: RE: Origins: do you know the muffin man
From: Tradsinger
Date: 10 Apr 05 - 03:12 AM

The original post asks whether there is anything sinister about the Muffin Man. There is a temptation to read symbolism and hidden codes into old nursery rhymes when there is no evidence that such symobolism exists. Look what happened to poor old "Ring-a-ring-a roses" which some folklorists claimed must be about the Black Death! Fortunately the Opies deconstructed this theory. I think that the Muffin Man is just a song about a Muffin Man, full stop.

I was interested to read the posting about it being used as a game. I remember in a Cornish pub about 30 years ago when a group of singers sang the Muffin Man with a chorus of "down, down, down, the Muffin Man", when the singer crouched as low as he/she could, and then "Up, up,up, the Muffin Man" when they drew themselves back to their full height. It loses in the telling, but it quite fun in the haze of alcohol! Has any other Mudcatter come across this way of performing the song?

Also the tune was used for the dance "Dorset Four Hand Reel". Not a lot of people know that.

Gwilym


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Subject: RE: Origins: do you know the muffin man
From: Sorcha
Date: 10 Apr 05 - 03:41 AM

Well, for what it's worth, in the US, 'muff' is a synonym for 'fanny'


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Subject: RE: Origins: do you know the muffin man
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 10 Apr 05 - 04:26 AM

I guess it is still alive around scout camp fires.

In the version that we did one person would sing the song dressed in a campfire blanket. He would sing the song directly to one other scout. At the end of the verse the scout would have to jump up and sing the second verse - yes I've seen etc. The second person would grab the first around the waist and they would dance around sining 'we've all seen the Muffin Man............ this would carry on until a long chain had developed. At some point the chain would break into 2 and most people would be dancing and singing.

Lots of fun but I suppose if you really tried you could read something into it.

A similar ritual surounded a song 'Two Little Elephants':
Two Little Elephants came out one day
Upon a sliders web to play
They thought it was such treamendous fun
They called on a another little elephant to come


And so chains of elephants would grow linked as elephants are made to in the circus


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Subject: RE: Origins: do you know the muffin man
From: Joe Offer
Date: 10 Apr 05 - 05:31 AM

What I remember from my Detroit childhood is:
    Have you seen the muffin man,
    The muffin man, the muffin man,
    Have you seen the muffin man
    That lives on Drury Lane?
Google has 1,890 entries for "Have you seen the muffin man," so apparently I'm not the only one who learned it that way.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Origins: do you know the muffin man
From: dianavan
Date: 10 Apr 05 - 05:36 AM

Many Victorian nursery rhymes did have a sexual themes. I thought that they originated as entertainment in the courts of Kings and Queens. Sort of quick little comedy sketches. Sing a Song of Sixpence, Humpty Dumpty, etc.

But the Muffin Man is probably a very old, hand clapping game that can be played between two. It was probably a genuine nursery game because it functions as an excellent method of teaching co-ordination as well as language, including pronouns.

I think that Brucies link to the story of the daycare came along after the actual rhyme. Good soundtrack for a case of daycare abuse but it sort of took the innocence of that song for me.

I hope that song is not banned from daycares or something.


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Subject: RE: Origins: do you know the muffin man
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 10 Apr 05 - 07:00 AM

Noddy has been locked up fur Muffin the Mule.

eric


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Subject: RE: Origins: do you know the muffin man
From: Dave'sWife
Date: 10 Apr 05 - 11:38 AM

Sorcha....
I never heard anybody use the term 'muff' to mean 'Fanny' or 'behind'... but in the US, I have heard it to mean .. 'Beaver' or 'snatch'.. hence the term 'muff-diver' which I think speaks for itself. Using the term 'Muff' in that manner seems to be most common in the Northeast.

When a friend of mine called somebody a 'Muff-diver' as a deragotory term in the company of a bunch of folks from the Western states, they had no clue as to its meaning. Explaining it to them wasn't easy - we kept busting out in laughter. I have heard some bawdy versions of Muffin Man that refer to 'Muff-Diving' but I haven't a good memory for lyrics to bawdy parody songs. I'll ask around. I wasn't going to mention it at all because I didn't think we were going in that direction.

The whole stink about that film "Do You Know The Muffin man' was quite real and heated. The film was made and shown at a time when many of these literal Witch-Hunts were ongoing. Since that time, many of the accused have been exonerated. The film is touted by SRA experts (Satanic Ritual Abuse) as a 'realistic' portrayal of SRA and as a result, many people in the US now believe that the song has sinister origins which is why this entire thread began.


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Subject: RE: Origins: do you know the muffin man
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Apr 05 - 12:08 PM

Dave'sWife, you are victim of the Two Nations Divided by a Common Language. In the US "fanny" means backside, rear, bum, and is considered a mild, child-friendly term. In the UK and Australia "fanny" is considered a good deal more crude and is used to refer to the external female genitalia.


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Subject: RE: Origins: do you know the muffin man
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Apr 05 - 12:37 PM

Say what, Joe?
Is California divided by a common language? Or does the Muffin Man live there?
(Smiling in gentle confusion)


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Subject: RE: Origins: do you know the muffin man
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Apr 05 - 12:43 PM

Humpty-dumpty sexual?


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Subject: RE: Origins: do you know the muffin man
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 10 Apr 05 - 02:00 PM

More digression-
Dave's wife- I agree with your definitions. I think Sorcha has it, umm, backwards.
Muff-diver is known here in western Canada, and at the other end of the Rockies, in New Mexico. At least by some of the people!

I have heard 'buns' called 'muffins'. Could it be a shape and size distinction?

Back to subject, many nursery rhymes are just that. Stories about them were added later. The best source of information is Opie and Opie, "The Singing Game." It does identify some which have meanings.


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Subject: RE: Origins: do you know the muffin man
From: Peace
Date: 10 Apr 05 - 03:15 PM

Muff in Canada refers to the female's privates. It is a term that ranks up there (pardon me) with snatch or pussy. Fanny in Canada refers to the gluteus maximus, medius and minimus (and it ranks up there--pardon me again--with tush or bum, which as I am sure you know are 'polite' terms for the ass (or arse if yer British)).

Beaver is/are one of Canada's national symbols.

The song, "Do you know the muffin man" predates the story I linked to above, D'van.


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Subject: RE: Origins: do you know the muffin man
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 11 Apr 05 - 12:29 AM

American Slang - MUFFIN - baseball - an inferior player. circa 1864 (Random House vol II D of Am Slang

Sincerely, Gargoyle


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Subject: RE: Origins: do you know the muffin man
From: Azizi
Date: 11 Apr 05 - 01:24 AM

I was interested to read how this rhyme is played as I have never read about any actions associated with it.

I was particularly interested in the memories that Tradsinger had of reciting this rhyme "with a chorus of "down, down, down, the Muffin Man", when the singer crouched as low as he/she could, and then "Up, up,up, the Muffin Man" when they drew themselves back to their full height".

I've never heard of that chorus before but I love it..I intend to add this song with that chorus in my sessions with pre-school children!
Thanks Tradsinger!   

From my rhyme collecting in Pittsburgh, Pennslyvania and elsewhere,
and from reading the Opie books, I've found that some updated versions of very old rhymes have been completely cut off from any accompanying actions. In a number of instances, children sing rhymes as back of the bus sing-along songs and have no knowledge that any movements whatsoever were ever done to those songs.

Here's one more random comment regarding this topic, in these times of extreme caution associated with 'good touch and bad touch' of children, it is probably unlikely that camp leaders would teach children to play this 'game' the way that Les in Chorlton remembered playing it:

"The second person would grab the first around the waist and they would dance around sining 'we've all seen the Muffin Man...........".

This is another example of how changes in social norms impact how children's games are played.


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Subject: RE: Origins: do you know the muffin man
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 11 Apr 05 - 12:31 PM

'it is probably unlikely that camp leaders would teach children to play this 'game' the way that Les in Chorlton remembered playing it:
The second person would grab the first around the waist and they would dance around sining 'we've all seen the Muffin Man...........".

True enough but people who work with children need police checks to show they have no record of crimes against children so maybe?

Could we still run about holding hands?


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Subject: RE: Origins: do you know the muffin man
From: mandoleer
Date: 11 Apr 05 - 03:03 PM

Never heard The Muffin Man tune used for the Dorset Four Hand - that's got its own tune. We used to use a tune called Grandma's Polka (as I recall - I know a lot of these tunes by ear and by the dance rather than by name!) which starts off very similar to Muffin Man but goes off into its own thing (and the second tune we used was Speed the Plough unless they complained, in which case we played Slow the Plough).


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Subject: RE: Origins: do you know the muffin man
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 11 Apr 05 - 03:30 PM

This is what the Opies say about the game in "The Singing Game," pp. 379-382.

"This is the most eccentric of the eccentric ring games: it has changed in shape at least four times in the past hundred and sixty years.---
"In Mrs. Mackarness's "Young Lady Book," 1876, the 'Muffin Man,' though still played with question and answer round a seated ring, there is no mention of forfeits. And by the time Alice Gomme was sent the game, c. 1894, it was played in a standing circle, with a blindfolded child in the centre who had to touch or catch one of those in the ring and guess who they were (sometimes by asking questions and guessing by the person's voice)."
"The latest but probably not the last shape of the game is a dancing ring, in which... 'One boy or girl stands in the middle and begins by going to someone, dancing in front of them, and singing "Do you know the muffin man...who lives in Drury Lane?" and that person answers "Yes, I know the Muffin man" and they join hands and dance round, but this time...they sing "Two of us know the Muffin Man."

Forfeits Game: first person chants 'to some sing-song tune' "Do you know.. Drury Lane? Next person replies, 'Yes I know etc.' Then both exclaim "Then two of us know...etc. and so on around the ring with more and more people knowing the muffin man. "Merrie Games in Rhyme," E. M. Plunket, 1886.
Often, in the U. S. and The Netherlands, the chooser dances round with a kicking motion of his legs.
First mention of muffin man in the OED is 1810.


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Subject: RE: Origins: do you know the muffin man
From: Azizi
Date: 11 Apr 05 - 05:01 PM

The Opies' think that the Muffin Man is ".. is the most eccentric of the eccentric ring games: [because]it has changed in shape at least four times in the past hundred and sixty years"..

Maybe. But I bet there are other ways this rhyme has changed-such as no actions accompanying the singing of the rhyme at all..

I was disapointed that the Opie books provide little racial/ethnic documentation of their informants. I dare say that if they had focused more on Black Britons in their studies, they would have found more variants of the texts and probably the performances of various children's rhymes.

In my informal collections of rhymes in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania [USA] area, I certainly am finding that there is sometimes a racial/ethnic factor in 'play'.


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Subject: RE: Origins: do you know the muffin man
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 11 Apr 05 - 08:34 PM

The Opies took their material as they found it. Most of their collecting work was done in the post-war years, when there weren't very many Black Britons as compared to today (bear in mind that Peter Opie was born in 1918 and died in 1982; Iona was born in 1923); on the whole, they were more interested in the "separate" culture that children maintain among themselves than in questions of separateness based on race.

That's probably more of an issue now, given that many urban communities are predominantly Afro-Caribbean, Hindu Asian, Muslim Asian and so on; but that's a recent demographic development. The British experience is very different from the American. Certainly there is room for new research in view of these changes, but the Opies' work pre-dates most of that and was based on how things were at the time, not how they are now.


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Subject: RE: Origins: do you know the muffin man
From: GUEST
Date: 12 Apr 05 - 01:31 PM

Can anyone make even a half-decent argument as to why humpty-dumpty is supposedly sexual?


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Subject: RE: Origins: do you know the muffin man
From: Snuffy
Date: 12 Apr 05 - 07:55 PM

Humpty Dumpty

Rumpy Pumpy

Say No More!!!


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Subject: RE: Origins: do you know the muffin man
From: pavane
Date: 13 Apr 05 - 03:22 AM

I understood that the original Humpty Dumpty was a primitive cannon, which makes the rhyme more understandable, but not exactly sexual.

You can see a song in the Bodleian Library called 'The Beautiful Muff' which was obviously full of double meanings. This use of the word goes back a long way.


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Subject: RE: Origins: do you know the muffin man
From: GUEST
Date: 13 Apr 05 - 04:23 AM

Someone here mentioned that the origins are sexual. Sounded patently ridiculous. I mean if you can read sex into "Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall Humpty Dumpty had a great fall and all the King's horses and all the King's men..." you've gotit on the noggin


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Subject: RE: Origins: do you know the muffin man
From: GUEST
Date: 13 Apr 05 - 04:37 AM

Leaving aside the obvious connotations of 'humping', if a cannon isn't a phalic symbol, what is?


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Subject: RE: Origins: do you know the muffin man
From: GUEST
Date: 13 Apr 05 - 05:35 AM

The song predates the modern connotation I'm pretty sure. Humpty is a diminutive of Humphrey. Anyway I do believe cannons are to kill, maim, knock down fortifications and rout your enemy. Of cooooourse the last argument of kings reeeeally means 'mine is bigger than yours so there'


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Subject: RE: Origins: do you know the muffin man
From: GUEST
Date: 13 Apr 05 - 09:17 AM

You are probably right about Humpty Dumpty pre-dating that connotation, which the OED dates to the late eighteenth century.

The cannon as phalic symbol is visual rather than functional - as in films and television in the days before graphic sex was common - along with trains rushing into tunnels, rockets, etc.


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Subject: RE: Origins: do you know the muffin man
From: GUEST
Date: 13 Apr 05 - 09:21 AM

Of course the joke of sex being being like a firearm is an old one, see the Bonny Black Hair, but that's not why guns and cannon were around.


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Subject: RE: Origins: do you know the muffin man
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 13 Apr 05 - 03:15 PM

"Humpty-Dumpty" was considered to be a riddle in Halliwell, "The Nursery Rhymes of England," 1846 (on line).

7th Class, Riddles
CXXXV
(An Egg)
Humpty Dumpty sate on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall;
Three score men and three score more
Cannot place Humpty Dumpty as he was before.
(this is from 1810)

He appears in Europe as Humpelkin-Pumpelkin (Germany), and other names.

Humpelkin-Pumpelkin sat up de Bank,
Humpelkin-Pumpelkin fel von de Bank;
Do is ken Doktor in Engelland
De Humpelkin-Pumpelkin kurere kann.
(Saxony)
Bank = bench; there is no doctor in Engelland who can restore H-P. Engelland = 'angel land.'
From Lina Eckenstein, 1906, "Comparative Studies in Nursery Rhymes." Also on line.
Eckelstein goes into the symbolism of the egg, but any relationship of these old myths to this riddle-rhyme is speculative on her part.


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Subject: RE: Origins: do you know the muffin man
From: GUEST
Date: 13 Apr 05 - 03:24 PM

It's interesting that a lot of English rhymes made it into Germany. Like this way the ladies ride etc etc


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Subject: RE: Origins: do you know the muffin man
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 13 Apr 05 - 03:48 PM

Are you sure the rhyme is English?


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Subject: RE: Origins: do you know the muffin man
From: GUEST,guest
Date: 04 Jul 10 - 05:43 PM

i heard that the muffin man used to be a real man who was abused as a child and got rewarded with a muffin for letting his father abuse him. so when he grew up he would tie a string to a muffin and trap kids in his bakery and rape, beat, then kill them. Later in England after raping was outlawed he was brought to the king but was soon released and was killed by an angry mob. Some parents (when he was still alive ) would tell the nursery rhyme to their kids as a warining later on Hansel and Gretal was written as another warning based on the muffin man storie.


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Subject: RE: Origins: do you know the muffin man
From: GUEST,Phil
Date: 05 Jul 10 - 01:28 AM

When I first met a Dutch friend of mine she told me her name was Mosselman and then to explain her name she sang (in Dutch)- Have you seen the mussel man. The tune was exactly the same as the tune that I learned as a child but we sang - Have you seen the muffin man.

I did a quick Google search and found a few Dutch references to these words.

Maybe a song is sometimes just a song.


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Subject: RE: Origins: do you know the muffin man
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 31 Dec 11 - 12:36 AM

The Civil War cannon connotation of Humpty Dumpty probably no older than the 1968 children's opera by Richard Rodney Bennett. In any event, the gun would have been named after the character in the rhyme rather than v-v.

The transatlantic differences re meaning of fanny have been adumbrated above, but not those of muffin [see Q's early post above], which in US means a sweet sort of cupcake or small bun, but here has always meant a sort of toasted teacake [known in US as an English muffin] ~~ see Mr Grimwig's enquiry as to whether there would be muffins for tea in Oliver Twist. In [somewhat dated?] British school slang also it can mean an inferior player of a ball-game, as mentioned above by gargoyle 11 apr 05 re baseball in US.

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: Origins: do you know the muffin man
From: GUEST,Peter C
Date: 31 Dec 11 - 06:22 AM

But does anyone know, the origin of the tune as generally used for the song?
Peter C (Not a guest!)


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