Posts Tagged ‘Grimm’

Lore and Language of Children

Saturday, August 4th, 2018

Iona and Peter Opie were like the Brothers’ Grimm of the 1950s. Their fabulous book was The Lore and Language of Schoolchildren, an epic collection of children’s rhymes, riddles, superstitions, jeers, and customs, garnered from interviews with thousands of English children in the 1950s. Many of these rhymes and tricks persist in the playground today. Here are some gems from the Opie’s collection:

Pinch-me, Punch-me, and Steponmytoes,
Went down to the river to swim,
Two of the three were drowned,
Who do you think was saved?

Old Mr Kelly,
Had a pimple on his belly;
His wife cut it off,
It tasted like jelly.

When the war is over Hitler will be dead,
He hopes to go to heaven with a crown upon his head.
But the Lord said, No! You’ll have to go below,
There’s only room for Churchill, so cheery, cheery oh.

God made the bees
The bees make the honey;
We do the work,
The teacher gets the money.

Scab and matter custard,
Green snot pies,
Dead dog’s giblets
Dead cat’s eyes.
Hard boiled snails, Spread it thick
Wash it down with a cup of cold sick!

 

 

200 Years of Grimm

Sunday, August 31st, 2014

Everything in the tales appears to happen by chance – and this has the strange effect of making it appear that nothing happens by chance, that everything is fated. – A. S. Byatt

One of the appeals of the 200 year old tales of the Brothers’ Grimm is how random events seem connected; as A. S. Byatt says in her excellent essay (online here). They are stories of generic princesses, simpletons, brothers and sisters who meet with good or bad ‘luck’ on their quest, yet are bound by the rules of the fairy tale world – a kind of guided randomness, but usually with a happy ending. Perhaps this is the way children see the world: capricious, a little scary, but ultimately, a hopeful place.

When I was a child I loved how the Grimm’s characters met the forces of their fickle, often gruesome, world with kindness and cunning. I’d lay in bed and listen to Danny Kaye’s brilliant reading of Clever Gretel on Sunday morning radio. The illustration above is by the great Arthur Rackham (more Grimm illustrations here).

Fairy tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us dragons can be beaten.– G.K. Chesterton

Grimm Birthday

Thursday, December 20th, 2012

Everything in the tales appears to happen by chance – and this has the strange effect of making it appear that nothing happens by chance, that everything is fated. – A. S. Byatt

Two hundred years ago today, the Brothers Grimm published their Household Tales. One of the appeals of the tales is how random events seem connected; as A. S. Byatt says in her excellent essay (online here). They are stories of princesses, simpletons, brothers and sisters who meet with good or bad ‘luck’ on their quest, yet are bound by the rules of the fairy tale world – a kind of guided randomness – usually with a happy ending. Perhaps this is the way children see the world: capricious, sometimes scary, but in the end, a hopeful place. As a child I loved how the characters meet the forces of their fickle, often gruesome world with kindness and cunning. (Illustration  by Arthur Rackham; more Grimm illustrations here).

Fairy tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us dragons can be beaten.– G.K. Chesterton