Nursery rhyme: an important form of dissent

Throughout history nursery rhymes have been used as a method of dissemination of adult dissent. An ingenious way of adult expression, using innocent tunes and reliant on children’s obliviousness.

A lot of kids literature has incredibly dark origins. This is because nursery rhymes are one of the oldest vehicles for coded dissent in difficult times.

Nursery rhymes are remembered in form, as account of their longevity, repetition and rhythm. However over time their concept has been lost, they have been interpreted in many different ways and nursery rhymes are dying out.

Is there a way for people now to remember the dissent and lost stories of nursery rhymes?

In Ian Hislop’s podcast he says the most effective way to protest is if the object of dissent (a brick, a rhyme, a puppet show) invites interpretation, it is not literal. This meant that if authorities came, no one would be arrested.

Is it possible to show that there is deeper undercurrent to these rhymes, without spelling it out? To still keep an element of code, secret messages and the idea of something being hidden in plain sight?

Many writers have altered famous nursery rhymes, the act of changing a few words of such a well worn rhyme has a strong impact, it raises questions over the original meaning.

By making a well known rhyme more nonsensical, do you turn it into even more of a secret code? Could this help hint to the fact that there is more under the surface of the rhyme than simply the lyrics?

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