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  • Writer's pictureWilliam Cook Miller

Nursery Rhyme Montage

Some people probably shouldn't blog for the simple reason that they don't blog. It's been months. I've had ideas. But where's the follow-through? I guess I'll persist for a while longer.

So -- on the topic of close reading nursery rhymes and baby songs: I was admiring this morning the succession of images in the old classic --

One, two -- buckle my shoe

Three, four -- shut the door

Five, six -- pick up sticks

Seven, eight -- lay them straight

Nine, ten -- a big fat hen

I thought without thinking that this was nonsense. But it tells a story in montage. Someone gets ready to go outside (buckles their shoe), closes the door behind them, gathers sticks, makes a fire, and roasts a hen. There's something almost cinematic about the concision here. We see a sequence of actions. But we must connect those actions -- must make them into a story, and more than that, into a world. I can feel the repetitiousness of this chore. The need to perform these tasks over and over again. The way the need to eat and feed has been smoothed by time.

Are there other examples of montage in nursery rhyme? I think so. Indeed, I think I gathered mentally a few more such -- but the parenting mind is a sieve. Feel free to share if you can think of others.

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