Little Bo-Peep

Little Bo-Peep

by Mother Goose

Little Bo-Peep has lost her sheep,
And can’t tell where to find them;
Leave them alone, and they’ll come home,
Bringing their tails behind them.

Little Bo-Peep fell fast asleep,
And dreamt she heard them bleating;
But when she awoke, she found it a joke,
For they were still all fleeting.

Then up she took her little crook,
Determined for to find them;
She found them indeed, but it made her heart bleed,
For they’d left their tails behind them.

It happened one day, as Bo-Peep did stray
Into a meadow hard by,
There she espied their tails, side by side,
All hung on a tree to dry.

She heaved a sigh and wiped her eye,
And over the hillocks she raced;
And tried what she could, as a shepherdess should,
That each tail be properly placed.

Summary of Little Bo-Peep

  • Popularity: Little Bo-Peep was written by Mother Goose, a famous imaginary author who is credited for many children stories and nursery rhymes passed down orally from many generations. It was first published in 1805. This poem tells a sad tale with humor for children. The poem comprises the loss of Little Bo-Peep’s flock of sheep. She then finds their tails in a meadow hanging on a tree.
  • “Little Bo Peep” as a Representative of Loss: As this poem is for children, it presents the perspective of a young girl who loses her sheep and is heartbroken when can’t find them. She is told that the flock would eventually get back, but she goes to sleep and hears her sheep bleating. To her surprise, when she wakes up, she finds them still missing. So, she tries to find them and later finds their tails hanging on a tree. The expression of sorrow starts from the first line and runs throughout the poem with a touch of humor. However, what stays in the mind of the reader is her unbound love and deep affection with her sheep.
  • Major Themes in “Little Bo Peep”: Sorrow and absence of responsibility are the evident themes layered in the poem. The poet has presented the worries of a young girl. The poor girl is too young to safeguard her animals from enemies. As a result, somebody captures her sheep. She never reunites with them and preserves their tails to remember them.

Analysis of Literary Devices Used in “Little Bo Peep”

Literary devices are tools used by the writers to convey their ideas, beliefs, and meanings to their readers. The poet has used some literary devices in “Little Bo-Peep.” The analysis of some of the literary devices used in this poem has been given below.

  • Imagery: Imagery is used to make the readers visualize things with their five senses. The lines “And dreamt she heard them bleating”; “Then up she took her little crook” and “She heaved a sigh and wiped her eye,” helps the reader to feel the Bo Peeps emotional state.
  • Alliteration: Alliteration is the repetition of the same consonant sounds in the same line such as /f/ sound in “Little Bo-Peep fell fast asleep” and /sh/ sound in “And tried what she could, as a shepherdess should.”
  • Hyperbole: Hyperbole is a figure of speech in which the writer exaggerates a thing or event to an extreme. The poem has a hyperbole in the third line of the third stanza, “She found them indeed, but it made her heart bleed.” Here, the heart does not bleed. Instead, it represents the acute pain she feels over her loss.
  • Onomatopoeia: It refers to the words which imitate the natural sounds of the things. The poet has used the word “bleating” in the second stanza of the poem.

The literary analysis shows that this poem, perfect for children as a nursery rhyme. The appropriate use of literary elements has made it thought a provoking and appealing piece.

Analysis of Poetic Devices in “Little Bo Peep”

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

  • Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There are five stanzas in this poem; each comprises four lines.
  • Quatrain: Quatrain is a four-lined stanza borrowed by Persian poetry. Here, each stanza is quatrain as the first and the second one.
  • Rhyme Scheme: The poem follows the ABAB rhyme scheme, and this pattern continues to the end.
  • End rhyme: End rhyme is used to make the stanza melodious. The poet has used end rhyme in this poem such as in the first and second stanza the rhyming words are, “bleating”, “fleeting”, “dry” and “by.”
  • Internal Rhyme: Internal rhyme is rhyme within a line such as in the lines “But when she awoke, she found it a joke”, “And tried what she could, as a shepherdess should” and “Leave them alone, and they’ll come home.” Here, “awoke”, “joke”, “could” and “should” rhyme with each other.

Quotes to be Used

These lines can be used while teaching phonics to the children. The repetition of some consonant sounds in the given lines would help them understand the correct pronunciation of the sounds.

“Little Bo-Peep has lost her sheep,
And can’t tell where to find them;
Leave them alone, and they’ll come home,
Bringing their tails behind them.”

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