Goosey Goosey Gander

Goosey Goosey Gander

Nursery Rhyme

Goosey goosey gander,
Whither shall I wander?
Upstairs and downstairs
And in my lady’s chamber.
There I met an old man
Who wouldn’t say his prayers,
So I took him by his left leg
And threw him down the stairs.

Summary of Goosey Goosey Gander

  • Popularity of “Goosey Goosey Gander”: This beautiful and concise nursery rhyme was composed by the general public orally. Its first record goes back to the end of the 18th In Roud Folk Song, and it has been indexed at no. 6488. However, Iona and Peter Opie recorded it as a separate nursery rhyme. It was later published in Garland of Nursery Parnassus by Gammer Gruton. The popularity of this nursery rhyme lies more in its notes and melody than its theme.
  • “Goosey Goosey Gander” As a Representative of Melody and Traditional Events: Although no one has attributed this nursery rhyme to any poet that it could be interpreted and considered a representative poem of some event or history, it, however, shows its melody attracting the young minds. That is why it is the favorite of children across the globe. The speaker of the poem calls Goosey by a lovely name to ask her where he should search for somebody and then suggests that he should search upstairs and downstairs to find the lady. However, he goes on to say that he finds an old man, but he throws him downstairs by taking him by his left leg. This points to two major points in history; the anti-Catholic campaign in England during the Cromwell era and prostitution.
  • Major Themes in “Goosey Goosey Gander”: Joviality, anti-Catholicism, prostitution, and melody are major themes of this nursery rhyme. Although joviality and melody are intertwined in the poem, the main themes related to past events peep through the verses. For example, the rhyme scheme matches the note, but it points to the anti-Catholic sentiments and how they were banned from chanting Latin prayers during the era of Cromwell. It also points to prostitution and the arrival of a person in the chamber of his favorite lady, where he finds an old and throws him out. However, it is interesting how these themes were internalized by the children, and they have lost their past impact, and the music has become a new attraction for the children.

Analysis of Literary Devices Used in Goosey Goosey Gander

The anonymous poet used various literary devices to enhance the intended impact of his poem. Some of the major literary devices are analyzed below.

  1. Allusion: It means to use references from society, history, or culture to stress upon the main idea. The poet used allusion to religious persecution and prostitution.
  2. Alliteration: It means to use initial consonants in successive words. The poem shows the use of consonant sounds, such as /g/ in “Goosey Goosey.”
  3. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line, such as the sound of /e/ in “There I met an old man” and the sound of and /o/ in “Goosey goosey gander.”
  4. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line, such as the sound of /g/ and /s/ in “Goosey goosey gander” and the sound of /w/ and /s/ in “Who wouldn’t say his prayers.”
  5. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. The anonymous poet used imagery in this poem, such as “Goosey goosey gander”, “Upstairs and downstairs” and “And in my lady’s chamber.”
  6. Rhetorical Question: It means to show or use a question not to elicit an answer but to tress upon the main theme. The poem shows the use of a rhetorical question such as “Whither shall I wander?”
  7. Symbolism: Symbolism is using symbols to signify ideas and qualities, giving them symbolic meanings that are different from the literal meanings. The poem shows symbols such as upstairs, downstairs, and the lady’s chamber as a symbol of prostitution.

Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in Goosey Goosey Gander

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is an analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.

  1. Diction: It means the type of language. The poem shows good use of formal, poetic, and melodic diction.
  2. End Rhyme: It means to use verses having matching end words. The anonymous poet shows the use of end rhyme such as men/den and gander/wander or /prayers/stairs.
  3. Rhyme Scheme: This poem shows the rhyme scheme of AABCDBCB.
  4. Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. The poem comprises a single stanza having eight verses.
  5. Tone: It means the voice of the text. The poem shows a quizzical, illustrative, and ambiguous tone.

Quotes to be Used

The following lines are useful to quote when talking about joviality and frivolity.

There I met an old man
Who wouldn’t say his prayers,
So I took him by his left leg
And threw him down the stairs.