If you really think about it, most nursery rhymes are super dark. Almost like they're warning children of what will happen if they misbehave, or to show them the horrors of the word. Especially the German ones, for some reason. Here are some of the most disturbing nursery rhymes.
u/DomMedbery11 asked: Most nursery rhymes have a dark meaning behind them, which one blows your mind the most?
Sounds culty to me.
One from my childhood that not many people seem to remember (maybe I just grew up in a cult without realising) was this:
"Oranges and lemons," say the bells of St. Clement's
"I owe you five farthings," say the bells of St. Martin's
"When will you pay me?" say the bells of Old Bailey
"When I grow rich," say the bells of Shoreditch
"When will that be?" say the bells of Stepney
"How should I know?" says the great bell of Bow
Here comes the candle to light you to bed
And here comes the axe-man to cut off your head
Chip, chop, chip, chop
The last man's dead
We would sing this in a large group. Two people would form an archway with their hands and everyone else would process through it. At the words "chip, chop," the people in the arch would start moving their arms up and down as people passed through. Whoever was caught between their arms on the word "dead" was out and would become part of another archway.
I didn't know the story behind this.Giphy
"Three blind mice, three blind mice,
See how they run, see how they run,
They all ran after the farmer's wife,
Who cut off their tails with a carving knife,
Did you ever see such a thing in your life,
As three blind mice?"
This is a rhyme dedicated to Mary I's reign, also known as Bloody Mary.
The three mice are believed to be a trio of Protestant bishops, Hugh Latimer, Nicholas Radley, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer, who conspired to overthrow Mary.
They were obviously unsuccessful and were found out, and then burned at the stake for treason and heresy. It was mistakenly believed that she also blinded and dismembered them, as the rhyme goes, as if being burnt alive wasn't enough.
Definitely doesn't help.
I know a German lullaby which was used to explain to children why their parents weren't coming home during/after the war: "Schlaf Kindlein schlaf" (sleep child sleep)
The disturbing part: "Papa ist in Pommerland Pommerland ist abgebrand Schlaf Kindlein schlaf"
It translates to: "Papa is in Pomerania (region between Poland and Germany) Pomerania burned down Sleep child sleep"
I doubt it actually helped any child understand the situation.
The Hearse song was a nursery rhyme from the early 20th century:
Don't you laugh when the hearse goes by 'Cause you might be the next to die
They'll wrap you up in a clean white sheet And put you down about six feet deep
They put you into a wooden box, And cover you over with earth and rocks.
It's not so bad for the first few weeks Until your coffin begins to leak.
The worms crawl in, the worms crawl out The worms play pinochle on your snout
They eat your eyes, they eat your nose They eat the jelly between your toes
They eat your clothes, they eat your hat They crawl in skinny, and crawl out fat
Your teeth fall in and your eyes pop out, Your brains come trickling down your snout.
Then you turn disgustingly green Your skin as slimy as whipping cream.
So next time you see the hearse go by Watch out! You may be the next to die!
That is messed up.Giphy
Rock-a-bye Baby. What's a baby doing in a tree? And the baby falls which is horrible.
The damn cradle is in the tree as well.
Woah, never thought of it that way.
Growing up (early 80s), we'd all put our dukes (fists) in and sing little rhymes to determine who would be IT for our form of tag (Bloody Murder).
I swear on my life, we sang:
Eenie, meenie, minie, moe, catch a TIGER by the toe. If he hollers, let him go. Out goes you.
I remember my mom yelling at us saying we were not allow to sing it because it was racist. I've never seen her so angry. We never sang it again. Flash forward to my 20s when I learned that tiger used to be the N-word and then my mom's banning of the song made so much sense. I don't know the history of the rhyme but I am sure it does not have the most pleasant history.
"Mary, Mary, quite contrary, How does your garden grow? With silver bells, and cockle shells, And pretty maids all in a row"
Found out a few years ago it was about Queen Mary of England and Silver bells, cockle shells are torture devices.
Classic nursery rhyme.Giphy
Lizzie Borden took an ax
Gave her Mother forty whacks
When she saw what she had done
she gave her father forty one.
Based on the real life Lizzie Borden who killed her parents.
Never wake up.
I remember one from my childhood. It goes: "Guten Abend, gut' Nacht, mit Rosen bedacht, mit Näglein besteckt, schlupf unter die Deck. Morgen früh, wenn Gott will, wirst du wieder geweckt, morgen früh, wenn Gott will, wirst du wieder geweckt."
Which translates to: "Good evening, and good night, With roses adorned, With carnations covered, Slip under the covers. Early tomorrow, so God willing, you will wake once again."
The part with the roses and carnations always reminded me of throwing flowers into the grave during funerals. And the last part implies that you might as well not wake up the next morning.
That's one way to teach them.
I can't back this up and this definitely isn't the most disturbing one on here but I've always thought that "it's raining, it's pouring. The old man is snoring. He went to bed, and he bumped his head, and he didn't get up in the morning." Was trying to teach kids about concussions.