House jack

This Is the House That Jack Built

"This Is the House That Jack Built" is a popular British nursery rhyme, first popularized by Randolph Caldecott. It is a cumulative tale that doesn't tell the story of Jack, who builds a house, but instead shows how the house is indirectly linked to numerous things and people, and through this method tells the story of 'The man all tattered and torn', and the 'Maiden all forlorn', on top of other smaller storylines.

Rhyme

This is the house that Jack built.

This is the malt that lay in the house that Jack built.

This is the rat that ate the malt
That lay in the house that Jack built.

This is the cat that killed the rat
That ate the malt that lay in the house that Jack built.

This is the dog that worried the cat
That killed the rat that ate the malt
That lay in the house that Jack built.

This is the cow with the crumpled horn
That tossed the dog that worried the cat
That killed the rat that ate the malt
That lay in the house that Jack built.

This is the maiden all forlorn
That milked the cow with the crumpled horn
That tossed the dog that worried the cat
That killed the rat that ate the malt
That lay in the house that Jack built.

This is the man all tattered and torn
That kissed the maiden all forlorn
That milked the cow with the crumpled horn
That tossed the dog that worried the cat
That killed the rat that ate the malt
That lay in the house that Jack built.

This is the priest all shaven and shorn
That married the man all tattered and torn
That kissed the maiden all forlorn
That milked the cow with the crumpled horn
That tossed the dog that worried the cat
That killed the rat that ate the malt
That lay in the house that Jack built.

This is the cock that crowed in the morn
That waked the priest all shaven and shorn
That married the man all tattered and torn
That kissed the maiden all forlorn
That milked the cow with the crumpled horn
That tossed the dog that worried the cat
That killed the rat that ate the malt
That lay in the house that Jack built.

This is the farmer sowing his corn
That kept the cock that crowed in the morn
That waked the priest all shaven and shorn
That married the man all tattered and torn
That kissed the maiden all forlorn
That milked the cow with the crumpled horn
That tossed the dog that worried the cat
That killed the rat that ate the malt
That lay in the house that Jack built.

Some versions use cheese instead of malt, judge instead of priest, rooster instead of cock, the older past tense form crew instead ofcrowed, or chased in place of killed.

Origin and History

The rhyme is derived from a Hebrew hymn in Sepher Haggadah and the reference to the "priest all shaven and shorn" indicates that the English version is probably very old. It did not appear in print, however, until 1755, when it was included in Nurse Truelove's New-Year's-Gift, or the Book of Books for Children. Randolph Caldecott produced an illustrated version in 1878.

References in popular culture

The poem has inspired countless variations and parodies.

  • Samuel Taylor Coleridge used it as the basis of a self-parody published in 1797 under the name Nehemiah Higginbotham. This was one of three sonnets, the other two parodying Charles Lamb and Charles Lloyd. Beginning "And this reft house is that the which he built / Lamented Jack! And here his malt he piled / Cautious in vain!" it piled together phrases from Coleridge's serious work put to ludicrous use.
  • Thomas Jefferson, prior to serving as President, first used it to criticize the broad construction approach of the "necessary and proper" clause of the U.S. Constitution with respect to a bill to grant a federal charter to a mining company. The term was used to suggest that the expansion of federal powers under these arguments would give the federal government infinite powers. "Congress are authorized to defend the nation. Ships are necessary for defense; copper is necessary for ships; mines, necessary for copper; a company necessary to work the mines; and who can doubt this reasoning who has ever played at 'This is the House that Jack Built'? Under such a process of filiation of necessities the sweeping clause makes clean work."
  • One of the "Political Miscellanies" associated with the Rolliad, an 18th century British satire, was "This Is the House That George Built", referring to George Nugent Grenville, Marquess of Buckingham, who had briefly supported William Pitt the Younger into government before resigning from office. The parody is attributed to Joseph Richardson.
  • A parody by Frederick Winsor appeared in The Space Child's Mother Goose (1958) as "This is the theory that Jack built." It describes the creation, obfuscation, and eventual destruction of a flawed theory.
  • The poem "The Responsibility" by Peter Appleton parodies this rhyme to make a social comment about the manufacture of weapons.
  • A children's book parody of the nursery rhyme called The House That Crack Built (ISBN 0-8118-0123-3) shows drug lords in Colombia making crack and its effect on people.
  • General Electric, which saw a revival under Jack Welch, has frequently been referred to as "The House That Jack Built".
  • This is also the title of a mythic episode of The Avengers: Originally broadcast in the UK on 5 March, 1966, this was one of the first Avengers episodes to show up on home video. Inheriting a country house from an uncle she never knew she had, Emma Peel shows up at her new lodgings, only to find out that she has been lured into a trap. The instigator of this outrage is an old enemy of our heroine, an electronics genius with a gift for deadly inventions. As Emma eludes one elaborate death trap after another, John Steed races to the rescue, though he may not arrive in time to prevent the poor girl from going off her trolley. A typically gimmick-laden Brian Clemens concoction, "The House That Jack Built" made its American network TV bow on May 16, 1966.
  • The first assignment in the television series Sapphire & Steel revolved around the use of old nursery rhymes allowing "time to break in" to an old house, and this rhyme was used to entice and then trap the time entities.
  • The news stories in 2006 about the shady dealings of lobbyist Jack Abramoff led to editorials about "the house that Jack built".
  • The Capitol Steps created and performed a parody called "The House That Jack Bribed", also referring to Jack Abramoff.
  • Aretha Franklin had a number-six pop and number-two R&B hit single with "The House That Jack Built" (not a version of the rhyme) in 1968.
  • English singer Tracie Young had a hit single with "The House That Jack Built" (not a version of the rhyme) in 1983.
  • In 1987 a pioneering house music act under the name Jack N Chill released a single called "The Jack That House Built". On re-release a year later, it reached number six in the UK.
  • In 1987 Near the end of the track "Home" by Roger Waters on his "Radio KAOS" CD, he makes a reference to it. It's done in similar fashion to the original prose - only mentioning Jack after a lengthy list of other references to the idea of Home.
  • In 1995 Clutch released the song "The House that Peterbilt", a reference to the truck company.
  • In 1996 Metallica released the album Load containing a song called "The House Jack Built".
  • In episode "Kisses Sweeter Than Wine" of sitcom Frasier, lead character Frasier Crane explains the series of events that caused him to cut his face while shaving: "I cut myself because I was shaving with no water, and why was there no water? Because I had to move your chair which gouged the floor which made me call for Joe who found bad pipes which called for Cecil who ate the cat who killed the rat that lived in the house that Frasier built!!!"
  • A cartoon short created by Walt Disney had two jazzed versions of "The House That Jack Built" and "Old McDonald Had a Farm".
  • JoJo sang "The House that Jack Built", on her demo album, Joanna Levesque
  • In the graphic novel From Hell (1999), by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell, retired inspector Frederick Abberline refers to his own house in Bournemouth as "the house That Jack Built" (vol 1, page 12), because he had received it for quitting the investigation of the Jack the Ripper murders.

References

External links

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