Kate Farrell, author of Story Power, has written a new blog post on the shocking story of nursery rhyme “Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater”.
Most of us at some point in our lives loved hearing and chanting children’s rhymes. Who wouldn’t? They are fun, catchy and somewhat nonsensical. But did you know that many of these seemingly innocent nursery rhymes actually have hidden meanings—and not just ordinary meanings, but terrifying connotations?
Yes, you read that right! Many nursery rhymes that we grew up hearing depict dark themes such as death, mass persecution, murder, bizarre acts, immorality, domestic violence, and so much more.
One of the favorite Mother Goose rhymes at this time of year is:
Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater
Peter, Peter, pumpkin-eater,
Had a wife and couldn’t keep her;
He put her in a pumpkin shell,
And there he kept her very well.
SHOCKING STORY OF THE PUMPKIN RHYME
“Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater” is one of those nursery rhymes that seem innocent and nonsensical at first glance, but if you take a closer look, you’ll discover that it has a gruesome hidden message. This nursery rhyme depicts marriage, infidelity, and murder.
It is generally believed that Peter’s beloved wife was a prostitute. Since he could not keep his spouse from having sexual affairs with numerous men, he decided to kill her and hide her body in an absurdly large pumpkin.
Another interpretation is that Peter was a poor man who married an unfaithful women. It seems that his wife keep on cheating Peter who made a plan to “keep her.” He put her in a chastity belt which was the pumpkin shell. (A chastity belt can was metal underwear along with a lock as well as a key.)
There’s another more murderous version of this rhyme that goes like this.
Eeper Weeper, chimbly (chimney) sweeper,
Had a wife but couldn’t keep her.
Had another, didn’t love her,
Up the chimbly he did shove her.
These rhymes suggest that women ought to love and be faithful to their husbands or else they could suffer grave, fatal consequences: They could be murdered by their husbands and then hidden in a pumpkin, shoved in a chimney, or fed to mice.
“Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater” is one of the English nursery rhymes, first published in Britain in the late 18th century or during the early 19th century. In 1825, the rhyme was published in Boston, Massachusetts as Mother Goose’s quarto, otherwise known as the complete melodies.
However, some of the words which were collected from the place called Aberdeen, Scotland published in 1868, had some of the following words, a more gruesome, vivid version.
Peter, my neeper,
Had a wife,
And he couidna’ keep her,
He pat i’ the wa’,
And lat a’ thet mice eat her.
PC PUMPKIN RHYME
Perhaps it is time to write a new version of this infamous, wife-hating verse. Here’s one possibility:
Peter, Peter, pumpkin-eater,
Had a pie and couldn’t eat it;
He put it in a pumpkin shell,
And there he ate it very well.
Secrets to Creating, Crafting, and Telling Memorable Stories
Stories are everywhere. The art of storytelling has been around as long as humans have. And in today’s noisy, techy, automated world, storytelling is not only prevalent—it’s vital. Whether you’re interested in enlivening conversation, building your business brand, sharing family wisdom, or performing on stage, Story Power will show you how to make use of a good story.