Nursery Rhymes Poems

Nursery rhymes have been a part of our lives for centuries. The first major volume was Tommy Thumb’s Song Book, followed by Tommy Thumb’s Pretty Song Book, both of which were published in 1744. Many of the songs in this book are recognizable to English speakers and non-English speakers around the world today. Some use nonsense language and fantastical images to engage young singers’ and listeners’ imaginations in new and creative ways. Others have mysterious origins that have led to a variety of wide-ranging and sometimes outrageous interpretations.

In fact, numerous volumes have been written in which writers from all sorts of backgrounds argue for hidden meanings in these childish songs. For example, London Bridge is Falling Down‘ is sometimes associated with quite dark beginnings and deaths during the bridge’s construction. Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary‘ might, some say, be about either Mary Queen of Scots or Mary I of England. Check out more possible interpretations below in our collection of popular nursery rhymes.

A Sailor Went to Sea

by Anonymous

‘A Sailor Went to Sea’ is a popular children’s song. There are different variations of the song that are sung

A Was an Apple Pie

by Anonymous

‘A Was an Apple Pie’ is a simple and fun-to-read poem. In it, the speaker lists the alphabet, using personification to depict each letter of the alphabet. 

A Wise Old Owl

by Anonymous

‘A Wise Old Owl’ is an English nursery rhyme. It depicts the qualities an owl has that make him wise and worthy of admiration.

Aiken Drum

by Anonymous

‘Aiken Drum’ is an interesting Scottish folksong. It dates back to 1820 and describes what one strange man’s clothes are made out of.

Alice the Camel

by Anonymous

‘Alice the Camel’ is a fun nursery rhyme and counting song. It describes Alice the camel and depicts her losing humps through the six stanzas until a surprising punchline ends the song. 

Alice the camel has five humps.

Alice the camel has five humps.

Alice the camel has five humps.

So go, Alice, go!

All the Pretty Little Horses

by Anonymous

‘All the Pretty Little Horses’, a popular lullaby of the United States of America, is also known as ‘Hush-a-bye’. This song has probably an African-American origin.

Animal Fair

by Anonymous

‘Animal Fair’ is a fun nursery rhyme that describes the actions of a monkey and an elephant, which ends with a cliffhanger.

As I Was Going

by Anonymous

‘As I Was Going by Charing Cross’ was first recorded in the 1840s. But, it likely dates to an early decade. It’s thought that this nursery rhyme was likely shared through street cries or chants.

As I was going by Charing Cross,

I saw a black man upon a black horse;

They told me it was King Charles the First-

Baa, Baa, Black Sheep 

by Anonymous

‘Baa, Baa, Black Sheep’ is an English nursery rhyme that is sung to a variation of a French song. The

Baa, baa, black sheep,

Have you any wool?

Yes, sir, yes, sir,

Bobby Shafto’s Gone to Sea

by Anonymous

‘Bobby Shafto’s Gone to Sea’ is a traditional English folk song and nursery rhyme. It describes a speaker’s longing for her love, Bobby Shafto, who is out on a sea voyage.


by Anonymous

‘Fee-fi-fo-fum’ is a well-known chant from the story of “Jack the Giant Killer.” Dating back to at least the early 1700s, the compelling and entertaining story tells of a young boy’s daring feats and his bravery.

Foxy’s Hole

by Anonymous

‘Foxy’s Hole’ is a popular nursery rhyme that originated in Tudor England. The reference to a fox as “foxy” makes

Goosey goosey gander

by Anonymous

‘Goosey goosey gander’ is an old English nursery rhyme that has unclear origins. But, it does have a few very interesting interpretations. 

Green Grow the Rushes, O

by Anonymous

Read ‘Green Grow the Rushes, O’, with a complete analysis and summary of the song/poem.

I'll sing you twelve, O

Green grow the rushes, O

What are your twelve, O?

Twelve for the twelve Apostles

Here we go round the mulberry bush

by Anonymous

‘Here we go round the mulberry bush’ was first recorded in the mid-nineteenth century by James Orchard Halliwell. It was noted, as a great deal of nursery rhymes were, as a children’s game.

Here we go round the mulberry bush,

The mulberry bush,

The mulberry bush.

Here we go round the mulberry bush

Hey, diddle diddle

by Mother Goose

‘Hey, diddle diddle,’ like most nursery rhymes, has unclear beginnings. It is believed to date back to the 1700s, if

Hickory, dickory, dock

by Anonymous

‘Hickory, dickory, dock’ is a well-loved and incredibly popular nursery rhyme that dates to the 18th century. It is quite short, at only five lines, and describes a mouse running up a clock.

Humpty Dumpty

by Anonymous

The name “Humpty Dumpty” is familiar to lovers of both literature and nursery rhymes. The character is considered to be

Hush little baby, don’t say a word

by Mother Goose

“Hush little baby, don’t say a word” by Mother Goose is a popular nursery rhyme that originated in the southern United States. It is addressed to a crying child and includes the many things that their father would do for them to make them happy.

Hush little baby, don't say a word,

Papa's gonna buy you a mockingbird.

Itsy Bitsy Spider

by Anonymous

‘Itsy Bitsy Spider’ is one of the most popular nursery rhymes today. It has an interesting and unclear history, awash

Jack Sprat

by Anonymous

‘Jack Sprat’ is a popular English nursery rhyme that was published in Samuel Arnold’s children’s songbook “Juvenile Amusement” published in 1797. This rhyme was an English proverb from the mid 17th century.

Little Bo-Peep

by Mother Goose

‘Little Bo-Peep’ by Mother Goose was first recorded, albeit only the first stanza, in 1805. This is the period around

Lizzie Borden Took an Ax

by Anonymous

‘Lizzie Borden Took an Ax’ is a well-known children’s rhyme that alludes to the accusations against Lizzie Borden in regard to the murder of her father and step-mother.

Monday’s Child

by Anonymous

‘Monday’s Child’ is one of several well-loved fortune-telling poems. It was first recorded in A.E. Bray’s Traditions of Devonshire published in 1838.

One For Sorrow

by Anonymous

‘One For Sorrow’ it’s an old English nursery rhyme that playfully interprets magpies (a type of bird) as signs of the future. 

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