Saturday, February 26, 2011

Wild Herrings and Strawberries Sing

A few days ago I wrote a short piece on my favourite nursery rhyme 'The Man in the Wilderness'.

A friend sent me the link to a fuller, three quatrain version of that rhyme with a slightly different wording which gives it a more authentically folkish flavour. Here is how it goes:
The man in the wilderness asked of me,
‘How many strawberries grow in the salt sea?’
I answered him, as I thought good,
As many a ship as sails in the wood.

The man in the wilderness asked me why
His hen could swim and his pig could fly.
I answered him as I thought best,
‘They were both born in a cuckoo's nest.’

The man in the wilderness asked me to tell
All the sands in the sea and I counted them well.
He said he with a grin, ‘And not one more?’
I answered him, ‘Now you go make sure.’
The text is from Natalie Merchant's web-site. I am glad I've discovered her wonderful adult interpretation of the poem and the beautiful music that accompanies it. I'll be listening more, hopefully together with my children who have grown out of nursery rhymes, but, I know, have kept the warm feeling of excitement and discovery that reading and reciting them with my wife and me gave them.

'The Man in the Wilderness' is included in Merchant's  'Leave Your Sleep' album, 2010. Enjoy:

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