May 6, 2011 Subject:
open copyright allows variation on a theme
I have a copy of "The Courtship and Marriage of Cock Robin and Jenny Wren" that appears to be quite old without the cover. The picture illustrations are an early form of colorized of similar style to the cover in these archives and the language seems to be more recent that the book in your archive. For instance, my copy begins:
"It was on a merry time,
When Jenny Wren was young,
So neatly as she danced,
And so sweetly as she sung,-
Robin Redbreast lost his heart:
He was a gallant bird;
He doff'd his hat to Jenny,
And thus to her he said:
"My dearest Jenny Wren,
If you will but be mine,
You shall dine on cherry pie,
And drink nice currant wine.
"I'll dress you like a Goldfinch,
Or like a Peacock gay:
So, if you'll have me, Jenny,
Let us appoint the day."
Jenny Wren accepts his proposal but prefers her more modest russet gown.
Also, later in the story in the version I have, the book Parson Rook reads from is identified as "one of Mother Hubbard's books he held within his hand".
In reading this book to young children, I would stop at the congratulatory dinner:
"Now they all sat or stood,
To eat and to drink;
And everyond said what
He happened to think."
I would even change 'he' to 'they' to be inclusive of the little women who probably would enjoy the story more with its wedding imagery than the little gentlemen settling in for the night anyway.
And the last few pages I would omit about the tipsy sparrow getting mad at the rude guest, the Cuckoo, and with terrible aim, shooting the robin dead at his own wedding! No. Far better to let the little heads wander off to dreamland while the wedding dinner is still blissfully playing.
Unless I was writing for the Prohibition party, and wanted to make a point about the evils of alcohol, and (for any birds that happen to be reading over my shoulder) the even greater danger of mulberries that will ferment right on the tree! And the happy birds calls sounding slighty tipsy during this season. Perhaps this is why mulberries are spread so widely across the land? Because birds really enjoy them, though owners of cars and sidewalks wish it were not so. Happy Reading, Coffeedecafe.
I wonder if the authorship of the poem is lost in the mists of history?
Also I wonder how old my copy is?