Hey Diddle Diddle
DESCRIPTION: "Hey diddle diddle, the cat and the fiddle, The cow jumped over the moon; The little dog laughed to see such sport, And the dish ran away with the spoon."
EARLIEST DATE: 1844 (Halliwell)
KEYWORDS: animal dog music fiddle nonballad
REFERENCES (3 citations):
Opie-Oxford2 213, "Hey Diddle Diddle" (1 text)
Jack, p. 65, "Hey Diddle Diddle" (1 text)
Dolby, p. 127, "Hey Diddle Diddle, the Cat and the Fiddle" (1 text)
NOTES: The Opies list no fewer than six proposed meanings for this rhyme, and Jack comes up with another, putting it in the reign of Richard III (in which case the Cat is Sir William Catesby and the Dog is Viscount Lovell, from the line "The Cat, the Rat [Richard Ratcliffe], and Lovell our dog, Rule old England under the Hog] Richard III's emblem was a boar]." He also mentions a link to Elizabeth I. None of these makes much sense.
In one of his earliest attempts to examine what the lost archetypes of nursery rhymes might have been like, J. R. R. Tolkien dramatically expanded this as "The Man in the Moon Stayed Up Too Late," found in The Lord of the Rings and as #5 in the Adventures of Tom Bombadil which first appear in 1923 (source: Tom Shippey, The Road to Middle-Earth, revised edition, Houghton-Mifflin, 2003, p. 36), which I believe means that either it or Tolkien's other "Man in the Moon" poem, "The Man in the Moon Came Down Too Soon" (his attempt to "explain" the nursery rhyme of that name) was the first published example of the Middle-Earth writings. - RBW
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