Friday, July 11, 2008

If All the World Were Paper

As I care for little Smiley I sing to him almost constantly. I make up impromptu rhymes to traditional melodies but never bother to write them down.

Back in my undergraduate days when I participated in the SCA I learned an old rhyme (that had an accompanying dance) named If All the World Were Paper.

The two verses I learned went:
If all the world were paper
And all the sea were ink,
If all the trees were bread and cheese
What would we do for drink?

If all the bottles leak'ed
And none but had a crack,
If Spanish apes ate all the grapes
How should we do for sack?


Of course, the internet has more verses. The first three verses were a traditional nursery rhyme, according to Walter Crane's The Baby's Bouquet. (UPDATE: The HTML version on Project Gutenberg not only has the book's illustrations but even has music! The dance and other music is here.)

I was making up new verses to this song this morning when I realized that here was a song worth changing well and writing down the result. It has a catchy tune. It already has a nonsense theme, with mention of drinking and bottles. Could I make it a longer song about feeding babies?

Since "drink" is so easy to rhyme, I'll also challenged myself to not let the -ink syllable conclude more than every other verse.

The first two verses could almost stand as I learned them. However, I was not sure if "Spanish apes" was a British insult against Spaniards or whether literal apes were believed to come from Spain. I thought I might as well avoid any problems by changing those words to "baby apes", which fit the baby theme better anyways.

I saw no need to change "sack". It becomes one of many words among nursery rhymes that has a vague meaning to a child but to adults means more: London's bridges, tuffets, and so forth.

Here is my first draft of a new version. The first two new verses I made up while feeding Smiley. The other two I made up while typing this blog post during his first nap.

If all the world were paper
And all the sea were ink,
If all the trees were bread and cheese
What would we do for drink?

If all the bottles leak'ed
And none but had a crack,
If Spanish apes ate all the grapes
How should we do for sack?

If all the babies burp'ed
And none had but a drink,
If bottles high did zoom and fly,
What would their parents think?

If all the legs did wiggle,
And hands get in the way,
At tot cannot drink a lot
If all it wants is play.

If all day long you hiccup
And never had a drink,
No diaper then in your playpen,
You'd never make a stink.

If all the binkies hideth
And hands did not have thumbs,
To try to suck you'd have no luck
Nothing to soothe your gums.


It is tempting to make more, but at least for now when I try to make up others they stray from the Feeding Baby theme:
If toes were rainbow colored
And fingers glowed like stars,
Doctors would frown and scratch their crown
And guess you were from Mars.


UPDATE: Hm. I should find old and obscure nursery rhyme songs to adapt for colors, for days of the week, for parts of the body, etc.

UPDATE: Lunch time for Smiley. I fixed the outer space verse and made up two more.

If bottles were gigantic
And we drove them like cars,
Would they fly up in the sky
To take us to Mars?

If burping did blow bubbles
Of ev'ry size and hue,
The nursery walls would have circles
Painted when you blew.

If your bib was backwards.
And on your back did flap,
Up up, away, go save the day,
But be home for your nap.

3 comments:

Eilidh said...

Brilliant, my dear! May I snag a copy of your words, your commentary, and post it on my Bardic lyrics page?

David V.S. said...

Of course, m'lady. (Or do you have a title now? Sorry for not keeping track!)

You keep company with many more talented bards than I do. Just keep me up to date about where you are keeping "the whole thing so far" as people build off it.

Eilidh said...

I'll definitely send you the link when I've uploaded it.

And um, well yes I have the title "Lady" and "Her Ladyship" and currently the role of "Bard of Caid." *giggle*