Definitions

Mother Hubbard

Old Mother Hubbard

"Old Mother Hubbard" is a nursery rhyme. Speculative claims have been made that this had to do with Thomas Cardinal Wolsey refusing Henry VIII's divorce from Queen Catherine of Aragon, or even that it was referring to a large trebuchet, but those have been disputed.

This nursery rhyme was printed 1805 as The Comic Adventures of Old Mother Hubbard and Her Dog. It was written by Sarah Catherine Martin (1768-1826), but based on earlier material of unknown origin (the name is attested from 1591). The first 2 stanzas are likely older than the others, because they use a different meter. The book was immediately popular, possibly in part because it was handy for political commentary (a practice that continues to this day).

Rhyme

Old Mother Hubbard
Went to the cupboard,
To fetch her poor dog a bone.
But when she got there,
The cupboard was bare,
And so the poor dog had none.

She went to the fishmonger's
To buy him some fish;
But when she came back,
He was licking the dish.
She went to the grocer's
To buy him some fruit;
But when she came back,
He was playing the flute.

(whistle solo)

She went to the cobbler's
To buy him some shoes;
But when she came back,
He was reading the news!

Alternate version

Old Mother Hubbard
Went to the cupboard,
To fetch her poor dog a bone.
But when she got there,
The cupboard was bare,
And so the poor dog had none.

She went to the baker's
To buy him some bread.
But when she came back,
The dog was dead.

She went to the undertaker's
To buy him a coffin.
But when she came back,
The dog was laughing.

The dame made a curtsey,
The dog made a bow.
The dame said "Your servant",
The dog said "Bow-wow".

References

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