If All the World Were Paper
DESCRIPTION: "If all the world were paper, And all the sea were ink, If all the trees were bread and cheese, What should we have to drink?"
EARLIEST DATE: 1641 (Wit's Recreations)
KEYWORDS: food drink nonballad
REFERENCES (3 citations):
Opie/Opie-OxfordDictionaryOfNurseryRhymes 548, "If all the world were paper" (2 text plus many similar texts)
Baring-Gould-AnnotatedMotherGoose #106, p. 92, "(If all the world was apple-pie)"
Dolby-OrangesAndLemons, p. 31, "If All the World Were Paper" (1 text)
cf. "If All the Seas Were One Sea"
NOTES [88 words]: This is the first verse of a poem published in Witt's Recreations in 1641, but it seems to have circulated independently. Many see connections with the church, and claim that it goes back to the eleventh or twelfth century. This is most unlikely, however, since paper was not available in England at that time; the only real writing material was parchment.
The version "If all the world was apple-pie" apparently originated with Gammer Gurton's Garland, and appears to be an error; why would anyone pair apple pie with ink? - RBW
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