September 8, 2017

September 8, 2017

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Mrs. Bond: "Come to be Killed!"

September 9, 2017

 

 

 

 

I came across this nursery rhyme recently while reading the The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes to my son. It's a lot of fun to read out loud, with all those "dilly dilly dilly dilly" lines. For some reason, I had never read it before. Maybe it's the kind of nursery rhyme that many publishers leave out of modern collections because it's not quite warm and fuzzy enough, so most of the time my nursery rhyme diet had been limited to Mary and her lamb, and the darkest event I encountered was the time Jack broke his crown on a date with Jill. (The illustration here is by Walter Crane, and isn't from the Oxford book).

Here's the poem (title by me):

 

COME TO BE KILLED

 

Oh, what have you got for dinner, Mrs. Bond?

There's beef in the larder, and ducks in the pond;

Dilly, dilly, dilly, dilly, come to be killed,

For you must be stuffed and my customers filled!

 

Send us the beef first, good Mrs. Bond,

And get us some ducks dressed out of the pond.

Cry, Dilly, dilly, dilly, dilly, come to be killed,

For you must be stuffed and my customers filled!

 

John Ostler, go fetch me a duckling or two,

Ma'am, says John Ostler, I'll try what I can do,

Cry, dilly, dilly, dilly, dilly, come and be killed,

For you must be stuffed and my customers filled!"

 

I have been to the ducks that swim in the pond,

But I found they won't come to be killed, Mrs. Bond;"

I cried, Dilly, dilly, dilly, dilly, come to be killed,

For you must be stuffed and my customers filled!"

 

Mrs. Bond she flew down to the pond in a rage,

With plenty of onions, and plenty of sage;

She cried, Dilly, dilly, dilly, dilly, come to be killed.

For you must be stuffed and my customers filled!"

 

She cried, Little wag-tails, come and be killed,

For you must be stuffed and my customers filled!

Dilly, dilly, dilly, dilly, come to be killed,

For you must be stuffed and my customers filled.

 

There are other versions of this nursery rhyme available online, but this version is longer than most that I've found and (in my opinion) reads far better. Some of the other versions online ruin the meter and change some of the words to blunt them of their humor or nuance. Although there are many books that collect lots of familiar "Mother Goose" nursery rhymes, the Oxford volume is by far the best that I have encountered. It's the most complete, and each nursery rhyme is accompanied by extensive notes and alternative versions. Thank you, Steve Withrow, for recommending it. Its list price is ridiculous, but there are many inexpensive used copies in fine condition available online. Just do a search at http://bookfinders.com to get yourself a copy.

 

According to the Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes, the poem, with tune, originally appeared in The Nightingale, 1831.I suppose that Dylan Thomas was aware that we humans share a fate with Mrs. Bond's poultry. In "Over Sir John's Hill," he clearly assumes we all know about Mrs. Bond:

 

 

 

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