Hey diddle diddle
The cat and the fiddle
The cow jumped over the moon
The little dog laughed to see such sport
And the dish ran away with the spoon
(Hey Diddle Diddle, a traditional English nursery rhyme, published in 1765, author unknown)
Nursery rhymes help children learn to speak (they use alliteration, onomatopoeia, similes, rhymes to help memory and basic sentence structure ), nursery rhymes help teach children counting skills (for example: One, two button my shoe), teach life lessons (Little Bo Peep lost her sheep because she was snoozing on the job) and nursery rhyhmes entertain. Many rhymes were based on tawdry and grotesque historical events inappropriate for children (for example: Ring Around the Rosie is about the plague) and were thus re-written by the Victorians to better represent the times and make them more suitable for children. For me, fairy tales and nursery rhymes just bring back nice childhood memories.
Would you ever have guessed in a million years that the cow jumping over the moon was supposed to represent Hathor worship (the Egyptian cow goddess) or the Jewish Flight from Egypt or stories about Queen Elizabeth I and her royal court. Nothing is as it seems in a nursery rhyme, often the earliest oral versions of the stories were lost and non-sense evolved, but this fact has not kept people from analyzing them. I was relieved to read that the cow jumping over the moon in Hey Diddle Diddle was probably just a nonsensical tale, with no deeper psychological musings!