Saturday, July 30, 2011

Mother Goose Contemporary -- Here, from Berta and Elmer Hader's 1930 Picture Book of it

Mother Goose as Insight
And new versions sadly deficient 

Perspective of Centuries
I.  Who is Mother Goose
II.  Interpretations fit the times
III. The Rhymes, with contemporary application

I.  Who is Mother Goose. 

Mother Goose as an idea, and various identities as the teller of tales, wisdom source, benign vehicle for imagination, goes back to about 1650. See http://www.librarysupport.net/mothergoosesociety/who.html.  Is there an element of the macabre, or sorcery? None that we find.

Watch how versions of old tales change to meet cultural agendas. Ask, in looking at representations of Mother Goose, by what authority do American publishers and Disney turn every wise single woman into a witch, by costume manipulation?  The process is as demeaning to the character as Disney and others turning Uncle Remus into a patsy. Look for Uncle Remus, for real, in old texts; as you now look for Mother Goose for real, in her older texts and illustrations.

Our book is first edition (covers missing), from 1930. Current renditions of Berta and Elmer Hader's Mother Goose and illustrations, such as this from 1995, are pale and lifeless. See http://www.amazon.com/Picture-Book-Mother-Goose/dp/0681006064.  They are so far removed from the depth of the original as not to be "copies" at all. Even a preschool child would be bored to tears. Here is a 1930 first edition, complete with covers (ours was too much loved), see http://www.abaa.org/books/413826265.html

  • My 1930 Mother Goose, with unsurpassed illustrations by Berta and Elmer Hader, starts off with a fine lady with benign face peering back at me, while she is in flight, not in black, no pointy hat, just a brimmed and substantial, tall Puritan-type hat, with buckle and flat top at the narrower end up top. Now go to Images on your browser.   See the witches so wickedly substituted for a wise woman. Tall pointy hats mean witch.  And we worry about other people's cultural systems brainwashing them?  How about us. Here is the Berta and Elmer Hader Mother Goose, at Hader, A Picture Book of Mother Goose, pagebooks.  My cover was in deep and lighter blue, see http://www.hader.pagebooks.net/hader_berta_and_elmer_hader%27s_picture_book_of_mother_goose.jpg
     
  • Berta and Elmer Hader's Picture Book of Mother Goose, 1930, Coward-McCann NY.  With that date, is copyright finished? I see none of its brilliant illustrations anywhere online. Teal, burgundy, gold, and some silhouette, black and white, the variety is dazzling. May I copy them here? Would someone please put this back on the market? Do away with the modern fakery.
  • Berta and Elmer Hader - beloved illustrations, medieval towns and lanes, houses, wee children, animals. My copy, dated 1930 (predates me, of course), has long lost its front and back cover, but the inside is intact and beautiful. Firmly located in the heart.
Mother Goose and Imagination - recourse of the helpless, the small, and also for the excitement-seeker.  Under her name came tales, and rhymes and songs and little games. Nursery rhymes
  • Nursery rhymes may well reflect political and other events of the time, or satire, where direct commentary on individuals and issues would be punished.  Some helped feed and seed revolutions.  See http://www.rhymes.org.uk/. At the least, nursery rhymes gave the adults, who knew, some likely enjoyment, even if the children saw surface meaning. 
Revive the Rhymes for today.  Here, we use italics for emphasis, but otherwise quote. ...............................................
II.  New:  Some character names in interpretation, references. Contemporary context. 
 These will change, depending on the issue. Mother Goose is eternal. Illustrations come and go.
Cross pollination. Some characters from other folk and literary sources may find themselves here. There are some morphs from Alice in Wonderland and The Night Before. Find, perhaps, in this Goose more Adventures of the Hatter, MitchMouse and Eric the Hare who does not Care; or Unhappy Harry the White Rabbit, and Neat Nancy, and Other People and Issues. .............................................................
III.  The Rhymes
A. Rhymes and Songs
1.  Old Mother Goose
"Old Mother Goose when she wanted to wander, would ride through the air on a very fine gander." 
She has a big smile on her face; and a Puritan-type hat with buckle, that in the US we see on the Pilgrim men, not the mobcap of the woman. She rides side-saddle, and the gander has the bit in his mouth.  Big moon behind. Equal rights; the rightful place of woman. Note to Obama. Equal Rights Amendment; to be submitted with any Balanced Budget Amendment:   .......................................................
2.  Willy Boy, Willy Boy
"Willy boy, Willy boy, where are you going? I will go with you, if I may. I'm going to the meadow, to see them a-mowing, I'm going to help them make the hay."
Bill Clinton. Clear reference to altruism and Bill Clinton,  The role model for Eric the March Hare who does not care, and the Teas who live in tightwad bags. ........................................................
3.   Harvest Home, Harvest Home
"Harvest Home, harvest home, Ne'er a load's been overthrown."
Obama.  The Optimist, Mediator, Non-defensive communicator overall. He has the Congress he has. He is getting done what he can. The Stealth progressive. ........................................................
4.  Dickory, Dickory, Dock
Dickory, dickory, dock.  The Mouse ran up the clock.  The clock struck "one", The Mouse ran down, Dickory, dickory dock.    Dickory, dickory, dock.  The Mouse ran up the clock. The clock struck three, The Mouse ran away, Dickory, dickory dock.  Dickory, dickory, dock, The Mouse ran up the clock. The clock struck ten, The Mouse came again,  Dickory, dickory, dock.
MitchMouse, the Dormouse, peeps out when convenient, irregularly, runs out the clock, ducks away again, over and over. Default dangers? Unimportant. Illustrators take note:  MitchMouse --The epitome of pursed-lip, frightened-eyed Intransigence, can never be out there alone. ................................................................. 5.  Little Betty Pringle
Little Betty Pringle she had a pig. It was not very little and not very big. When he was alive he lived in clover. But now he's dead, and that's all over.  Johnny Pringle he sat down and cry'd, Betty Pringle she lay down and dy'd. Johnny Pringle he, Betty Pringle she, and Piggie Wiggie.
The death of environmental protection. John as the Hatter Speaker - powerless even to act in his own interest. All demise around him. ..................................................................... 6.  The Cock's On The Woodpile
"The cock's on the wood pile a-blowing on his horn, The bull's in the barn a-threshing of corn, The maids in the meadow are making of hay, The ducks in the river are swimming away."
Hatter John blowing, but the jobs of bull and maids are outsourced and now in China. Tea ducks duck responsibility. ................................................................... 7.  Hickety Pickety
"Hickety Pickety, my black hen, She lays eggs for gentlemen; Sometimes nine, and sometimes ten, Hickety Pickety my fat hen."
Who owns blacks or any other minority? Has to work for the rich, is that it? ....................................................................... 8.  I Love Little Pussy
"I love little Pussy, Her coat is so warm, And if I don't hurt her, She'll do me no harm.  I'll sit by the fire and give her some food, and Pussy will love me, Because I am good."
The delusion of Congressional ethics, news events, international exploitation and violence debacles.  See Dominique's mindset that nobody really minds. Just don't hurt her, and she's yours.  Dominique was wrong. ................................................................... 9.  Polly, Put the Kettle On
"Polly, put the kettle on, Polly, put the kettle on, Polly put the kettle on, And let's drink Tea.
Sukey, take it off again, Sukey, take it off again, Sukey, take it off again, They're all gone away."
Unhappy Harry, the White Rabbit, held his office door open for any, any Republican to enter and discuss mutually satisfactory terms to avert default.  Nobody came to negotiate. Nobody. Law of propaganda:  Never debate, never cite facts, repeat.  ................................................................ 10.  Little Girl, Little Girl, Where have you been?
"Little girl,  little girl, where have you been?"
"Gathering roses to give to the Queen."
"Little girl, little girl, what gave she you?" 
"She gave me a diamond as big as my shoe."
Tea party girls gathering roses for the Koch brothers. Nice rewards. ..................................................................... 11.  What's the News of the Day?
"What's the news of the day, Good neighbor, I pray? They say the balloon is gone up to the moon."
Murdoch's empire.  ................................................................ 12.  Pipe, Cat; Dance, Mouse
"A cat came fiddling out of a barn, With a pair of bagpipes under her arm;  She could sing nothing but "Fiddle cum fee, The mouse has married the bumble bee."  Pipe, cat, dance, mouse; We'll have a wedding at our good house."
. Inter-species marriages, approved by Mother Goose ......................................................................... 13.  Little Robin Redbreast
Little Robin Redbreast sat upon a tree, Up went Pussy-Cat and down went he; Down came the Pussy-cat and away Robin ran; Says little Robin Redbreast, "Catch me if you can.
The Redbreast Polluter and the Pussy-Cat Regulator.   ........................................................................ 14.  Baa, Baa, Black Sheep
Baa, baa, black sheep, Have you any wool? Yes, sir; yes, sir;  Three bags full.  One for my master, One for my dame; But none for the little boy Who cries in the lane.
The attack on who needs "entitlements" .......................................................................................... 15.  Barber, Barber, Shave a Pig Barber, barber, shave a pig, How many hairs will make a wig? 'Four and twenty, that's enough,' give the poor barber a pinch of snuff." Union busting.  That's enough.  Barber is a loser. A shave and a wig, both for a pinch of snuff? Go home, loser. .................................................................................. 16.  Smiling Girls, Rosy Boys
"Smiling girls, rosy boys, Come and buy my little toys -- Monkeys made of gingerbread, And sugar-horses painted red."
Only the rosy need apply for toys. ...................................................................... 17.  A Dog and a Cat Went Out
A dog and a cat went out together To see some friends just out of town, Said the cat to the dog, "What d'ye think of the weather?"  "I think, ma'am, the rain will come down;  But don't be alarmed, for I've an umbrella That will shelter us both," said this amiable fellow.
Washington to dream of.  A red dog and a blue cat out together, and the red dog shares. ...................................................................................... 18.  A Crooked Man
There was a crooked man, and he went a crooked mile, And he found a crooked sixpence against a crooked stile; He bought a crooked cat, which caught a crooked mouse, And they all lived together in a little crooked little house.
The crooked get elected. ........................................................................ 19.  Pussy Sits By The Fire
Pussy sits beside the fire. How did she come there? In walks a little dog, Says -- "Pussy, are you there? How do you do, Mistress Pussy?  Mistress Pussy, how do you do?"  "I think you kindly, little dog, I fare as well as you."
Sheer fantasy.  Where is the equal rights amendment to help her fare as well as he? ...................................................................................... 20.  Three Sisters In a Hall
There were three sisters in a hall, There came a Knight amongst them all; Good morrow, aunt, to the one; Good morrow, aunt, to the other, Good morrow, gentlewoman, to the third.  If you were my aunt, As the other two be, I would say good morrow, The aunts, all three.
Three sisters, two are aunts, and one is a gentlewoman, says the knight. If she were also an aunt, as she is not, he would say good morrow.  What is she to him? And he already said Good morrow to her. What is this all about? Have to find out. Do "Three Sisters" refer to the garden threesome, corn, squash and beans? See http://davesgarden.com/guides/terms/go/1366/  Or the Bronte sisters? But they come later, as does Chekhov. Moving on .... .......................................... 21.  Little Bird
"Once I saw a little bird Come hop, hop, hop;  So I cried, little bird, will you stop, stop, stop?  And was going to the window To say How do you do? But he shook his little tail, And far away he flew."
Bird of economic recovery, flown far away.Talk won't do it. ............................................. 22.  Blow, Wind, Blow
"Blow, wind, blow! and go, mill, go! That the miller may grind his corn; That the baker may take it, And into rolls make it, and bring us some hot in the morn."
Incentives needed to make the banks lend, the companies hire here. We just want to be ok. See and hear Ingrid Michaelson at  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jt955Fj7_JI ........................................................ 23.  Hickory, Dickory, Sacara Down
"Hickory, dickory, sacara down! How many miles to Richmond town?  Turn to the left and turn to the right, and you may get there by Saturday night."
How far and how to resolution of the debt ceiling crisis.  As made up as sacara down, no meaning found that makes sense yet.  Some Spanish verb derivations, perhaps the name of a "down" or green, meadow, heath. ..................................................... And on. Our main point is that politics can be lightened and enlightened by a look at old rhymes; and especially fine old illustrations. Where to find these online? For lost lyrics and their meanings, try http://www.rhymes.org.uk/lost-lyrics-old-nursery-rhymes.htm