Little Boy Blue

Little Boy Blue

by Mother Goose

Little boy blue,
Come blow your horn,
The sheep’s in the meadow,
The cow’s in the corn.
But where is the boy
Who looks after the sheep?
He’s under a haystack,
Fast asleep.

Alternate Version of the Rhyme:

Little Boy Blue, come blow your horn,
The sheep’s in the meadow, the cow’s in the corn.
Where is that boy who looks after the sheep?
He’s under a haystack, fast asleep.
Will you wake him? Oh no, not I,
For if I do, he’ll surely cry.

Summary of Little Boy Blue

  • Popularity of the Poem, “Little Boy Blue” Mother Goose, a famous imaginary author of French fairy tales and nursery rhymes, wrote ‘Little Boy Blue’. It is one of the famous traditional nursery rhyme attributed to her. It was published in the mid18th The poem is about a little boy who is a shepherd. Instead of looking after the cattle, he falls asleep. This rhyme is taught to preprimary children in most countries. You can find the earliest copy of the rhyme in 1744 in Tommy Thumb’s Little Song book. However, historians believe that the rhyme was a writer before the 18th century.
  • “Little Boy Blue” As a Representative of Innocence: The rhyme is about a shepherd child who used to look after his farm. The speaker calls the little boy and asks him to blow his horn, but the boy does not come. As the poem continues, we come to know the boy is sleeping under the haystack. In a few cases, it is believed that the rhyme is about Cardinal Wolsey, son of an Ipswich butcher, who was in charge of his father’s cattle.
  • Major Themes in “Little Boy Blue”: There are no major themes in this rhyme. However, responsibility can be considered as a minor theme. The little boy is too young to look after the farm. So, he falls asleep. The parents or passers talk to each other after looking at the sleeping boy. They want to wake him up but they are afraid he will cry. Perhaps, they understand that the child needs to play instead of guarding the cattle.

Analysis of Literary Devices in “Little Boy Blue”

Literary devices are tools used by writers and poets to convey their emotions, feelings, and ideas to the readers. Mother Goose has also used some literary devices in this poem. The analysis of some of the literary devices used in this poem has been given below.

  1. Imagery: Imagery is used to make the readers perceive things with their five senses. For example, “The sheep’s in the meadow”, “The cow’s in the corn” and “He’s under a haystack.”
  2. Alliteration: Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line in quick succession such as the sound of /b/ sound in “Little boy blue.”
  3. Metaphor: It is a figure of speech in which an implied comparison is made between different objects. The rhyme is an extended metaphor for innocence. In ‘Little boy blue’
  4. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line such as the sound of /s/ in “Fast asleep” and /r/ sound in “Come blow your horn.”
  5. Enjambment: It is defined as a thought in verse that does not come to an end at a line break; rather, it rolls over to the next line. For example,

But where is the boy
Who looks after the sheep?
He’s under a haystack,
Fast asleep.”

  1. Rhetorical Question: Rhetorical question is a statement used to receive an answer. The question is posed to make the point clear. For example, “Who looks after the sheep?”

Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in “Little Boy Blue”

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 rhyme.

  1. Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There is only one eight-lined stanza in this poem.
  2. Octave: An octave is an eight lined stanza. This poem comprises of only one octave.
  3. Rhyme Scheme: The poem follows the ABAB rhyme scheme, and this pattern continues until the end.
  4. End Rhyme: End rhyme is used to make the stanza melodious. For example, “horn”, “corn”, “sheep” and “asleep.”

Quotes to be Used

The lines stated below are suitable while teaching phonics to the children. You may also use these lines to start storytime.

“Little boy blue,
Come blow your horn,
The sheep’s in the meadow,
The cow’s in the corn.”