02 June 2007

If you wash on Saturday...

Miss M and I are visiting my mother this weekend. When here, for bedtime reading we usually choose a couple of books that reside here (I shlep enough; it's nice that books don't have to travel). One of these is an old Mother Goose - "The Tall Book of Mother Goose", with illustrations by one Feodor Rojankovsky, published in 1942, when my mother was seven. That's a roundabout way of saying that it had been her book. It's a funny edition - it includes extra verses that aren't in any of the several other Mother Goose editions that we have. For instance, "one two buckle my shoe" goes all the way to twenty, instead of stopping at ten. "Goosey goosey gander" ends with an old man who would not say his prayers and so gets thrown down the stairs. And there are lots of the more obscure poems, my favorite of which is a day of the week washing ditty - which seems particularly apropos this week given Niobe's Wednesday's Child post earlier this week:

They that wash on Monday
Have all the week to dry;
They that wash on Tuesday
Are not so much awry;
They that wash on Wednesday
Are not so much to blame;
They that wash on Thursday
Wash for shame;
They that wash on Friday
Wash in need;
And they that wash on Saturday,
Oh! they are sluts indeed.

Sluts? Really? I'm a slut because I'm a working mother and Saturday is when I have time enough to do the laundry? And what about (looks about furtively) the fact that I do laundry on Sunday too? I guess I'm a slut and a heathen.


S said...

Hah! What if you have an infant and do laundry every day? Are you considered to have multiple personality disorder?

niobe said...

And, by leaving out Sunday, the poem doesn't even serve what you would think would be its intended purpose -- to teach the names and order of the days of the week.

Anonymous said...

Sluts indeed! Love it! C'est moi!

Julie Pippert said...

Oooh don't take too much offense!

"Slut" hasn't always meant "sexually promiscusous."

It used to mean "dirty, untidy." And also "maid" as in the person who cleans.

It has had a long association with sex, but until recently that wasn't the only meaning.

In context, and considering the source, I'm going to say the word slut in this rhyme is intended as "you've got a big mess and will have to spend a lot of time cleaning."


Anonymous said...

Thanks, Julie, I was going to ask if it had a different meaning. Though I live in a very conservative part of the state, and my next door neighbor once called my mother because I was hanging laundry on a Sunday. For shame!

Anonymous said...

I've got a load spinning right now...I almost always do my laundry on Sundays!

S. said...

Just to refine what Julie said, a slut specifically meant a bad housekeeper--it might extend to a woman's dress not being put together, but not to, say people dirty from working outdoors.

I think "slattern" has similar roots.

Bea said...

Doing laundry on Sunday - obviously too sinful even to contemplate.

I love the extended versions of nursery rhymes. The little girl who had a little curl ends quite blood-curdlingly, with the poor girl being whipped "most emphatic" for making too much noise.

Aurelia said...

And people wonder why I didn't like reading those to my kid! I always ended up stopping short, skipping certain words and leaving out chunks of poems.

What did your daughter think of it?

NotSoSage said...

Ah, Julie beat me to it. But to follow up on Bubandpie's comment: Jack and Jill (a rhyme close to my heart) historically ends with Jill being beaten because she laughed at her brother when he cut his head falling down the hill. I did a project in grade school on nursery rhymes and the number of them with dark or sordid roots is quite disturbing indeed.

Gossips, sluts, we're all in the same boat, my friend!

Anonymous said...

I was told this poem at school by an excentric teacher,im 45 & It still pops into my head if i wash on a sat,lol.

J Lynn said...

I remember telling my mom about this poem when i was a little kid. It was in our nursery rhyme book but I had misplaced the thing before I finally told my mom about it. She never believed me, so I've been on and off looking around trying to find it.

My sister was talking about Mother Goose and that's when I remembered it was indeed a mother goose poem! ha!

Unknown said...

I remember my son bringing a book home with this verse in, I was livid,