For some oddball reason, I have been thinking about Hickory Dickory Dock. A bit too frequently. It is apparently stuck in some loop in my head. Every so often this will happen to me. A thought, or a verse, or a song, will find necessity in repeating itself, again, and again. Sometimes, the chantings between my ears, are nonsensical. The other day it was the phrase “Bush’s Baked Beans.”
But today, it is Hickory Dickory Dock. I had to look it up to make sure I had the words right, at the very least.
Hickory Dickory Dock,
The mouse ran up the clock.
The clock struck one,
The mouse ran down!
Hickory Dickory Dock.
But here it the thing. My mind blanked out the line that says “The mouse ran down.” And for good reason. It is a terrible rhyme. Heaven’s to Mergatroid. Why would someone rhyme like that? Upon inspection, I found the rest of the poem is equally corrupt.
The cat at seven / wanted to get em.
The horse at eight / had some cake.
There were various others in the cast. Birds, bears, cows, pigs. Most of them got their numbers rhyming okay with their words. Barely.
Regardless, I became irritated. If a stanza is going to repeat itself in my head, it well better rhyme. What is this phrase
“The clock struck one. The mouse ran down?”
Down? Down? There are a bazillion words which fit with “one.” But not Down.
Done, maybe. Sun. Fun. Bun. Run. Ton. Gun. Nun. And on. We are only in the monosyllables right now.
Of course, there would be no rest in this. I had to know the author was. As it turns out, he is a Scottish guy. Andrew Lang, who lived from 1844 to 1912.
He wrote a large amount of books. Many. Mucho. A lot of Faery Tales, and Folklore. But his main interest was in the Other World. He believed in the “To and Fro” of things. Lang was one of the founders of “Psychical Research.” He did a lot of work in Parapsychology, and other aspects of paranormal and psychic phenomena. Some of his other writings on anthropology include The Book of Dreams and Ghosts (1897), Magic and Religion (1901) and The Secret of the Totem (1905).
The guy was all about the NetherWorld. He served as President of the Society for Psychical Research in 1911.
Apparently, Lang had a teacher named E.B. Tyler, who didn’t believe in the possibility of the Paranormal state of things. So, Lang extensively cited nineteenth- and twentieth-century European spiritualism to challenge the idea of this teacher. Lang wrote and wrote about it.
As I also discovered, it was his wife, Leonora Blanche Alleyne (m. 1875), who collaborated on a lot of his Nursery Rhyme / Faery Tale books. I bet you Leonora was the non-rhymer. She was probably like, “Oh, just write ‘the mouse ran down’ and be done with it.” Maybe.
And he was probably like, Mr. Nice Guy, and let the non-rhymes slide, so that he wouldn’t have to dishes that night. Since they were having baked beans for the third night in a row. Guessing. Again.
As always, I leaned another life lesson from all of this. What that lesson is, has not become blatantly apparent yet. But I am guessing it has something to do with aerobic mice. And the confluence of points in time. And forgiveness.
The clock struck one. The mouse ran down.
I forgive you Andrew and Leonora Lang.
“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you will ever have.”
― Eckhart Tolle
“When the mouse laughs at the cat, there’s a hole nearby.”
― Nigerian Proverb
“Listen. Slide the weight from your shoulders and move forward. You are afraid you might forget, but you never will. You will forgive and remember.”
― Barbara Kingsolver, The Poisonwood Bible