Three Blind Mice
DESCRIPTION: "Three blind mice (x2), See how they run (x2); They all ran after the farmer's wife. She cut off their tails with a carving knife. Did you ever see such a sight in your life As three blind mice?"
AUTHOR: Thomas Ravenscroft?
EARLIEST DATE: 1609 (Ravenscroft's Deuteromelia)
KEYWORDS: animal disability
FOUND IN: Britain(England,Scotland(Aber)) US(NE)
REFERENCES (10 citations):
GreigDuncan8 1672, "Three Blind Mice" (1 text, 1 tune)
Williams-Thames, p. 297, "Three Blind Mice" (1 text) (also Wiltshire-WSRO Ox 267)
Linscott, pp. 283-284, "Three Blind Mice" (1 text, 1 tune)
Opie-Oxford2 348, "Three blind mice, see how they run!" (2 texts)
Baring-Gould-MotherGoose #253, p. 156, "(Three blind mice, see how they run!)"
Jack, p. 212, "Three Blind Mice" (2 texts)
Dolby, p. 111, "Three Blind Mice"
Fuld, p. 576, "Three Blind Mice"
Silber-FSWB, p. 413, "Three Blind Mice" (1 text)
ST FSWB413A (Full)
The (Blind/Decrepit/Myopic) Rodents (Pankake-PHCFSB, p. 208)
Who Can Tell? Catch ("Why the Fresh? (x3) Who can tell? (x3)) (Henry Randall Waite, _Carmina Collegensia: A Complete Collection of the Songs of the American Colleges_ first edition 1868, expanded edition, Oliver Ditson, 1876, p. 15)
NOTES [119 words]: Fuld reports this as "the earliest printed secular song which is still extremely well known" (but compare "Greensleeves"). Fuld also prints a plate of the 1609 music -- in a somewhat pre-modern notation, and with words noticeably different from those sung today.
Neither Fuld nor any other source I have seen offers an explanation for why this bit of silliness survives when so many better pieces died out. The Baring-Goulds note that there have been attempts to link it to political events -- e.g. the Farmer's Wife is Mary I Tudor (perhaps considered a farmer's wife because of her marriage to Philip of Spain), and the mice are Protestant leaders who opposed her. None of these explanations is very convincing. - RBW
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