Piggy Nursery Rhymes

Three KuneKune pigs looking at the camera.

Nursery rhymes are short, traditional poems sung or chanted by children in the United States, Britain, and many other countries. Some nursery rhymes in use today originated as long ago as the Middle Ages, though most first appeared in print in 18th and 19th century Britain.

Why pigs? Because pigs were the cottager’s annual meat supply. Pigs didn’t require a lot of space, and fattened on mast (forest refuse including acorns) and scraps, a pig produced a lot of meat. Every country child knew pigs.

Here’s a piggy nursery rhyme most everyone knows. Dating to the late 1800s, it’s listed in the Roud Folk Song Index, a database of nearly 200,000 references to more than 25,000 English language songs and rhymes collected from oral traditions all over the world:

To market, to market, to buy a fat pig,
Home again, home again, jiggety-jig;
To market, to market, to buy a fat hog,
Home again, home again, jiggety-jog.

This little piggy went to market is another familiar rhyme to be recited while tweaking a child’s toes, beginning with his big toe and ending with his smallest. The first published reference to this rhyme appeared in 1728 and it’s also listed in the Roud Folk Song Index.

This little piggy went to market,
This little piggy stayed home,
This little piggy had roast beef,
This little piggy had none,
And this little piggy cried, wee-wee-wee
All the way home.

Another version of this little pig went to market:

This little pig went to market,
The weather was warm and clear,
And he gamboled along with a laugh and song,
At the side of his mother dear.

Tom, Tom, the piper’s son is yet another well-known nursery rhyme listed in the Roud Folk Song Index. It made its first appearance in an English chapbook printed in 1795.

Tom, Tom, the piper’s son,
Stole a pig, and away he run;
The pig was eat
And Tom was beat,
And Tom went howling down the street.

Another version goes:

Tom, Tom, the piper’s son,
Stole a pig, and away he run.
Tom run here,
Tom run there,
Tom run through the village square.

An American version harkens back to the 1920s:

Tom, Tom, the piper’s son
Stole a pig, and away he run.
The pig got loose,
And killed a goose,
And Tom got put in the calaboose.

And now, some lesser known piggy rhymes:

Piggy Wig and Piggy Wee,
Greedy pigs as pigs could be.
For their dinner ran pell mell.
And in the trough both piggies fell.

Two mother pigs lived in a pen,
Each had four babies and that made ten.
These four babies were black and white.
These four babies were black as night.
All eight babies loved to play.
And they rolled and they rolled in the mud all day.

Upon my word and honour,
As I was going to Bonner,
I met a pig,
Without a wig,
Upon my word and honour.

Jack Sprat’s pig,
He was not very little,
Nor yet very big.
He was not very lean,
He was not very fat;
He’ll do well for a grunt,
Says little Jack Sprat.

Come dance a jig,
With my granny’s pig.
With a raudy, rowdy, dowdy.
Come dance a jog,
With my granny’s hog
And pussy-cat will crowdy.

Little Johnny Pringle had a little pig.
It was very little, so it wasn’t very big.
When he was alive he lived in clover,
But now he’s dead and that’s all over.
So little Johnny Pringle, he laid down and cried
And little Betty Pringle, she laid down and died.
There is the history of one, two, three:
Johnny Pringle, Betty Pringle, and Piggy Wig-ee.

The sow came in with the saddle;
The little pig rock’d the cradle;
The dish jump’d up on the table,
To see the pot swallow the ladle.
The spit that stood behind the door,
Threw the pudding-stick on the floor;
Oh! said the gridiron, can’t you agree?
I’m the head constable, bring them to me.

Dickory, dickory, dare,
The pig flew up in the air;
The man in brown soon brought him down,
Dickory, dickory, dare.

Piggie on a railway, picking up stones.
Down came an engine,
And broke poor piggie’s bones.
“Ah!” said piggie, “That’s not fair.”
“Oh!” said the engine driver,
“I don’t care!”

I had a little pig,
And I fed it in a trough.
He got so big and fat,
That his tail popped off!
So, I got me a hammer,
And I got me a nail,
And I made that pig
A wooden tail!

A long-tailed pig or a short-tailed pig,
Or a pig without a tail.
A sow pig, or a boar pig,
Or a pig with a curly tail.

A little pig found a fifty-dollar note,
And purchased a hat and a very fine coat,
With trousers, and stockings, and shoes,
Cravat, and shirt-collar, and gold-headed cane,
Then proud as could be, he marched up the lane;
Said he, ‘I shall hear all the news.”

Barber, barber, shave a pig.
How many hairs to make a wig?
Four and twenty, that’s enough.
Give the barber a pinch of snuff.

Granfa’ Grig had a pig,
In a field of clover;
Piggie died, Granfa’ cried,
And all the fun was over.

There was a lady loved a swine,
Honey, quoth she,
Pig-hot, wilt thou be mine?
Hoogh, quoth he.

Do you know any other pig-related nursery rhymes? If you do, please leave a comment. Thank you!


Photo compliments of Hilly Haven Farm in Loyal, Wisconsin

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