THIS MONTH’S PARODY (April) Mary had a little lamb


Surprisingly, perhaps, this nursery rhyme is of American origin and based on a true story. Mary Sawyer was a schoolgirl in Sterling, Massachusetts, and took her pet lamb with her to school. The event caused some consternation and the story was picked up by a Sarah Hale, put into verse and published in 1830 (Hale’s authorship is disputed by some). Mary Sawyer’s house survived until 2007 when it was destroyed by arson but there is a statue to Mary and her little lamb in Sterling’s town centre. The poem is also famous for being the first words to be recorded by Thomas Edison on his newly invented phonograph in 1876.

Mary had a little lamb,
Its fleece was white as snow;
And everywhere that Mary went
The lamb was sure to go.

It followed her to school one day
Which was against the rule;
It made the children laugh and play
To see a lamb at school.

And so the teacher turned it out,
But still it lingered near,
And waited patiently about
Till Mary did appear.

“Why does the lamb love Mary so?”
The eager children cry.
“Why, Mary loves the lamb, you know”
The teacher did reply.

 Versions by Anon.

Mary had a little lamb
Her father shot it dead.
Now it goes to school with her
Between two chunks of bread.

 Mary had a little lamb
She also had a bear.
I’ve often seen her little lamb
But much prefer her bare.

 Mary had a little lamb.
It bumped into a pylon.
Ten thousand volts went up its arse
And changed its wool to nylon.

 Mary had an iron cow.
She milked it with a spanner.
The milk came out in shilling tins
And little ones a tanner.

 Mary had a little lamb.
She also had a duck.
She put them on the mantelpiece
To see if they’d fall off.

 Mary had a little skirt.
The side was split in half
And every time that Mary walked
The boys could see her calf.

Mary had another skirt
With a split right up the front,
But she didn’t wear that one very often.

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