One for Sorrow

One for Sorrow

One for sorrow,
Two for joy,
Three for a girl,
Four for a boy,
Five for silver,
Six for gold,
Seven for a secret,
Never to be told,
Eight for a wish,
Nine for a kiss
Ten for a bird
You must not miss.

Summary of One for Sorrow

  • Popularity of “One for Sorrow”: Written by some anonymous rustic poet, this beautiful nursery rhyme first came into the record in Observation on Popular Antiquities on Lincolnshire collected by John Brand. It was published in 1780. Since then, this nursery rhyme has witnessed various adaptations, changes, and amendments. Yet, it has not lost its appeal due to the ordinal learning associated with it. That is why it is highly popular across the globe for teaching the English language to young students.
  • “One for Sorrow” As a Representative of Teaching Life Lessons with Numbers: Although the origin of this poetic lyric is English and it has emerged for children, its usage for teaching numbers to ESL children is matchless. It has almost become a textbook poetic output. However, as far as its background of associating luck or bad luck with magpies when counting them comes into play when interpreting it. If one magpie is the reason behind the sorrow, then how do the two cause joy, and the same goes until the end that the person singing it should not miss the bird when he comes at number ten. These are just gimmicks if interpreted from the modern perspective of rationality. The real advantage of this poetic output is teaching young children how to count things or even birds.
  • Major Themes in “One for Sorrow”: Teaching numbers with abstract ideas is the main theme of this poem. Although it has been intended for singing, it has not lost its real message of showing different facets of life by teaching counting in English. Although its origin and its original usage of counting magpies and thinking about their good or bad effects have also not lost their significance, it still is used in teaching what sorrow is, how a boy and girl go for gold and keep things secret and that how they should love and not love or show how they miss or not miss each other.

Analysis of Literary Devices Used in One for Sorrow

The anonymous poet used various literary devices to enhance the intended impact of his/her poem. Some of the major literary devices in this poem are given below.

  1. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line, such as the sound of /e/ in “Seven for a secret” and the sound of /a/ and /o/ in “One for sorrow.”
  2. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line, such as the sound of /r / in “Three for a girl” and the sound of /s/ in “Seven for a secret.”
  3. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. Anonymous poet used imagery in this poem, such as “Three for a girl”, “Seven for a secret,” and “Eight for a wish.”
  4. Metaphor: It is a figure of speech in which an implied comparison is made between objects that are different in nature. The poet used the metaphor of numbers for different things.
  5. 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 numbers to denote the meanings of different things.

Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in One for Sorrow

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 rhyming diction.
  2. End Rhyme: It means to use verses having matching end words. Anonymous poet shows the use of end rhyme, such as joy/boy and gold/told.
  3. Rhyme Scheme: The poem follows an ABCB rhyme scheme throughout the poem.
  4. Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There is a single-stanza poem having twelve verses.
  5. Tone: It means the voice of the text. The poem shows an interesting and happy tone.

Quotes to be Used

The following lines are useful to quote when talking about how to teach numbers

Eight for a wish,
Nine for a kiss
Ten for a bird
You must not miss.