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And This Writer's Mind

By Mellie MillerPublished 2 years ago 6 min read

The writer’s mind can be a bit weird. You get some wacky idea stuck in your head and then start imagining scenes or other ideas from there. Questions come to mind.

For instance, let’s start with lullabies.

Everyone has heard lullabies, the little songs we sing to babies in an attempt to put them to sleep. But did you ever consider the lyrics?

All right, some of them are fine, such as the lyrics to Brahms Lullaby: “Lullaby and good night, Go to sleep little baby." Those words are comforting, soothing, and appropriate for a very young child. Or the lyrics to All Through the Night: “Sleep my child and peace attend thee, all through the night.”

But then we come to Rock-a-Bye Baby. Let’s take the points one at a time.

"Rock-a-bye baby

On the tree top”

My first question is who climbed up the tree to put the baby on the tree top? Or is the mother a chimpanzee? Dad;s a gorilla? Someone please explain.

Maybe it’s a very short tree.

But if it’s that short, how could one expect it to hold a cradle?

“When the wind blows

The cradle will rock”

This makes sense in the traditional type of cradle I’ve seen hung from a tree. Picture a light cradle made of wicker or woven basket, with some sort of handle, which is suspended from a supple tree branch to gently rock or sway with a breeze. Or mom can reach up every now and again to move the branch and set the cradle in motion.

But the thing is only about two feet off the ground. So what if the branch breaks? The little one will be a bit shaken, but should be fine. Get my point?

“When the bough breaks

The Baby will fall.”

No kidding. Really? Wouldn’t you check to make sure the branch was sturdy before hanging a cradle from it? Of course, we are talking about someone who has climbed a tree to swing the cradle in the first place, so I’m not sure about their mental capacity to begin with.

And down will come cradle,

Baby and all.”

And probably the tree branch. Which, knowing how these things go, will hit the baby on its way down.

If the baby could understand the lyrics to this song, you would never get the kid to go to sleep again ever. It would be terrified of cradles in general.

Yes, I know. The whole thing is most likely a political statement. According to wordopolis.org, “The popular lullaby was first printed in 1765 in Mother Goose's Melody. Some historians believe it was written in response to King James II's conversion to Catholicism. He had a son in 1688 and many feared his heir would lead to a Catholic dynasty in England.

According to this political theory, the lyrics of "Rock-A-Bye Baby" were a death wish directed at the infant son of King James II, hoping he would die and be replaced by a Protestant king. Others speculate the wind represents the Protestant movement, the breaking bough represents the Stuart monarchy, and the baby in danger is England herself.

There are several other theories as well, but seriously, aren’t you glad babies don’t understand those lyrics?

Now, how about Hush Little Baby

"Hush little baby

Don’t say a word.

Papa’s gonna buy you

A mockingbird.”

All right. I can understand buying a bird to sing and keep the baby entertained. I don’t know about a mockingbird, but perhaps when the song was written it could be done. I’d go with a canary myself.

“And if that mockingbird don’t sing

Papa’s gonna buy you a diamond ring”

All right, how old is “baby?” And if we’re talking about an honest to goodness baby here, who in their right mind buys a child that age a diamond ring? What’s the kid gonna do with it? Are you going to hang it over the crib, like a mobile so it can sparkle in the light? Because if you let the baby hold the ring, the first thing she’ll do is put it in her mouth.

You know I’m right.

“And if that diamond ring is brass

Papa’s gonna buy you a looking-glass.

All right, so you buy a diamond ring for a child under three years of age, and turns out it isn’t gold and diamonds at all. It’s brass and crystal. Wouldn’t you think the price might have been a giveaway? And if you paid the price for gold and diamonds, the lyrics should read like this:

And if that diamond ring is brass

Papa’s gonna kick somebody’s ass.”

Ya know? Of course by the time you figure it out, assuming you were dumb enough to buy it to begin with, the vendor has packed up and skipped town.

Back to our lyrics.

And if that looking-glass gets broke,

Papa’s gonna buy you a billy goat.”

We're not even going to talk about grammar. Okay?

Are you trying to kill the kid with the smell? And who buys a billy goat for a baby? Are you hoping the billy goat will keep potential dangers away? What's the deal? Have you ever owned a billy goat before?

From here the song just gets sillier, to my mind, if we’re talking about a child young enough to be called a baby. We go from billy goat to a cart and bull.

A bull? Really? Those things are unpredictable at best. Anyone who knows anything about cattle in general can tell you that. What is wrong with this picture? Who gets a bull to pull a cart? Aren't they normally oxen?

“And if that cart and bull turn over

Papa’s gonna buy you a dog called Rover.”

Now, I would have started with the dog. Dogs are protective, can be friendly, bark at strangers. And they are fairly tolerant of small children. Let’s go with the dog, shall we?

But no. This particular dog won’t bark. So...

“Papa’s gonna buy you a horse and cart.”

Now it takes a bit of skill to drive a horse and cart. I don’t think “baby” is up to it. Or maybe you’re going to hire a driver as well. Could get expensive, but since you're throwing money away anyway, why not?

Of course, we may not have any better luck with the horse and, cart, but “you’re still the sweetest little babe in town.”

So I guess it’s all good.

Of course, remember, I write romance. So do a lot of my friends. Are we maybe talking about a “daddy/baby” kind of relationship here? Maybe baby is really over twenty-one and pouts a lot. Do we know?

Seriously, I don’t understand lullabies. At least, not the ones like these two. I suppose, since the little ones can’t understand the words, the sounds might be soothing. But honestly, can’t we do a little better than this?

And do we still have to sing songs referring back to a deceased ruler or the political scene a few centuries ago?

Where are my songwriting friends? Time for some fresh lullabies people. Write me something soothing, something ageless, which will be relevant in a hundred years.

Who’ll accept the challenge?

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About the Creator

Mellie Miller

Wife, mother, animal lover, musician, martial artist, writer of fantasy romance with a touch of magic, with seven books up on Amazon. I do a little bit of everything these days.

The cat approves.

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