The Disturbing Origins of 5 Common Nursery Rhymes

Let's face it: everything is a lot more horrifying than you thought when you were a kid. Pick even the most childlike, innocent thing you can think of, and the odds are that there's a deeply disturbing story behind it.

For instance, nursery rhymes. We grew up memorizing these seemingly nonsense lines of verse from Mother Goose, which seem to exist for no other reason than to keep toddlers entertained. There couldn't possibly be some kind of weird, twisted history to them, could there?

Well, guess what ...

#5. Three Blind Mice

Three blind mice, three blind mice,

See how they run, see how they run,

They all ran after the farmer's wife,

Who cut off their tails with a carving knife,

Did you ever see such a thing in your life,

As three blind mice?

We Thought it Meant...

A trio of unfortunate rodents on a mission to find out where the hell they are, eventually run into an old woman who just happens to be skilled in chopping small defenseless animals to pieces. So this one's actually already kind of disturbing on its own.

But Some Experts Say...

The farmer's wife in the poem is an allusion to the 16th Century Queen "Bloody" Mary I, and her enthusiasm for everything involving torture, death, and basically finding new ways to go down in textbooks as history's biggest bitch. The three mice supposedly represent three noblemen who got together and said, "Gee guys, maybe this Mary lady isn't all there." and were consequently prosecuted for conspiring against the queen.


Not afraid to cut a motherfucker.

If you're cringing at the thought of what the cutting off of their three "tails" symbolizes, don't worry. She didn't cut off their dongs. No, she proved she had some form of human empathy, and simply burning those suckers at the stake instead.

#4. Georgie Porgie

Georgie Porgie pudding and pie

Kissed the girls and made them cry

When the boys came out to play

Georgie Porgie ran away

We Thought it Meant...

Some playground creep who seemed to lose his balls at the sight of young men.

But Some Experts Say...

The whole thing refers to a torrid gay sex scandal involving King Charles I.

Georgie Porgie is thought to be a caricature of George Villiers, the 1st Duke of Buckingham and hardcore pretty boy. He was rumored to be a lover to Anne of Austria, the Queen Consort of France who was notorious for just about everything except for being pretty. Or really looking like a woman at all.


Possibly a dude.

So after having a fling with the, er, somewhat masculine Anne, it was a pretty smooth transition for Villiers to switch teams. Not one to do anything half way, the man Villiers chose to woo just happened to be King Charles I. Through the king, Villiers was able to become very powerful and influential, and was even knighted as a--and we're not making this up--Gentleman of the Bedchamber, a title Georgie's parents were surely proud of.

Eventually, Parliament got sick of the bastard and cut off the relationship. As a man of love, Villiers fought for his darling Charles valiantly by pretty much screaming, "Well...okay!" Thus the reference "When the boys came out to play, Georgie Porgie ran away."

As for what exact innuendo "Pudding and pie" represents, we'll let you use your imagination.

#3. Goosey Goosey Gander

Goosey Goosey Gander, whither shall I wander?

Upstairs and downstairs and in my Lady's chamber.

There I met an old man who wouldn't say his prayers,

So I took him by his left leg and threw him down the stairs.

We Thought it Meant...

The town hobo breaking in to various women's rooms and throwing their partners down stairs for being religiously inconsistent.

But Some Experts Say...

Back in 16th century Europe, most people were busy either fighting off plagues or killing off Catholics. Priests especially were in high demand as there was a reward for the Protestant who was able to find and execute one.

The method of execution was often tying him by the legs and throwing him down a flight of stairs (thus the last line in the rhyme). Unless he would begin to say his prayers in English rather than Latin, he would bounce down the steps faster than your childhood Slinky. If he did give in, he was spared by--oh wait, no. They threw him down the stairs regardless.

So that's all well and good, but what the hell does the phrase "Goosey Goosey Gander" have to do with anything?

Well, it's thought that "Goosey" is referencing an old slang term "goose" which was a nice but roundabout way of saying "voluptuous lady of the night" which in turn is a euphemism for "goddamn dirty hooker." In fact, the term "goose bumps" was originally slang for the red bumps caused by venereal diseases.

The more you know, kids!

Recommended For Your Pleasure

To turn on reply notifications, click here

453 Comments

The Cracked Podcast

Choosing to "Like" Cracked has no side effects, so what's the worst that could happen?

The Weekly Hit List

Sit back... Relax... We'll do all the work.
Get a weekly update on the best at Cracked. Subscribe now!