a few words on Humpty Dumpty

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall………………………….humpty dumpty

    My  Danish friend , Ivan , calls him Humphrey Dumphrey . The two of us were discussing him  several years ago . Why ?  I can’t now remember ; but , that’s the kind of thing that guys discuss , I think , when they’re not talking sports , or car engines , or plumbing .

I’ve been thinking about Humphrey Dumphrey from time to time over the years . And today I got a package in the mail from Ivan . It came as a surprise . It’s a book entitled : Scandinavian Folk and Fairy Tales , Crown Publishers 1984 , edited by Claire Booss .  She has inscribed the copy ” To Ivan , with best wishes .”

The book has stories :  Norwegian , Swedish , Danish , Finnish , and Icelandic . I’ve got some reading to do . I don’t know much about Scandinavian folklore . I know a little about the Swedish tomtes ,who cause a little mischief around Christmas time , and the witches , of course , around Halloween , and Loki , the guy who had a drinking contest with another mythical creature . The other dude somehow secretly attached the end of Loki’s drinking horn to the ocean , so as much as Loki drank , thinking that this would be an easy victory , his horn wouldn’t empty . He , if he had been English , would have been flummoxed . He was beginning to lose his self-confidence , but the sneaky competitor cut him some slack and confessed the scam . He even went so far as to praise Loki for being able to empty the ocean to such a great extent . Good sport , that other guy , it seems .

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.

So , it seems that Humpty Dumpty , aka. Humphrey Dumphrey , was , perhaps , a cannon before he was an egg . During the English Civil War ( 1642-49 ) , there was a stumpy cannon on the castle wall that was known as Humpty Dumpty . Maybe . Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall .

In later years , short and clumsy people were called “humpty dumpties”. Humpty dumpty was also , evidently , a kind of brandy boiled with ale during the 17th Century . Clumsy people were later called “humpty dumpties”  , maybe because they got that way drinking humpty dumpty . ( See : http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2013/04/the-origin-of-humpty-dumpty/ )

There is one theory that old Humpty Dumpty was Richard III , and that “the wall” was his horse . I’m not buying this idea . It seems a bit too far-fetched for me ; but who knows ! At any rate , so the story goes , Humpty fell off the wall . Everybody seems to agree on that .

Old Mother Goose got her hands on Humpty after he appeared in English texts in the late 1700s . We get the common version of the nursery rhyme , ending :

All the king’s horses and all the king’s men,

Couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty back together again .

Earlier versions differ , of course . Earlier lines read : Four score men , and four score more , Could not put Humpty where he was before .  Wait . Let me re-think the Richard III reference again .

I’m going to fall off the wall if I find Humphrey Dumphrey in this Scandinavian folklore book I just got . One never knows about these Scandinavians . Ivan may have  simply been speaking from his knowledge of Danish folklore when he mentioned Humphrey Dumphrey . Those vikings  populated parts of Britain and Ireland, after all . [ irrelevant reference : See Danish Royal Egg ]. Maybe the original Humpty hung out with Hrothgar and all those guys .

Lewis Carroll mentioned Humpty Dumpty , too , in  Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland . His Humpty Dumpty was a tough and crusty egg . Modern nursery rhyme culture has made old Humpty into a dorky sort of a character .

I need to quit here because I’m going to try out a few recipes for that old humpty dumpty concoction and then start reading the folk & fairy tales book . I’m staying away from any walls , though , just in case  , but  I’ll see if I can find a copy of Louis Louie   (to have The Kingsmen ready ).


Filed under humor

8 responses to “a few words on Humpty Dumpty

  1. I always wondered what on earth they expected the King’s Horses to do…I mean, they aren’t exactly nimble enough to work on an egg.

  2. My grandson was obsessed with Humpty Dumpty for about 3 months, and I wondered about the origin of the rhyme. Many of those old rhymes seem to have less obvious references and meanings, and quite a few are not very nice or politically correct!

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