Snips and Snails and Puppy-Dog Tails

77f3My boyhood memories that are predominately good are those from before the age of seven. Then life was filled with awe, joy and wonder. The painful realities from the adult world had not touched my little brother and me yet.

Clearly I recall a yellowed newspaper clipping my Mother kept with other keepsakes in a little cedar box up high on her chest-of-drawers. Enough times to imprint it on my brain she got it out and read it when I was little (more than once due to my insistence). I mentally filed the memory away titled “What are little boys made of…” although poem talked about girls and others.

In years since, frequently I am come across bits and pieces of the poem and searched without luck for a full version. Purely by chance this morning I stumbled across what appears to be the poem in complete form. I became so happy and excited, I just had to share it here.

What are little babies made of, made of?
What are little babies made of?
Diapers and crumbs and sucking their thumbs;
That’s what little babies are made of?

What are little boys made of, made of?
What are little boys made of?
Snips and snails and puppy-dog tails;
That’s what little boys are made of.

What are little girls made of, made of?
What are little girls made of?
Sugar and spice and everything nice;
That’s what little girls are made of.

What are young men made of, made of?
What are young men made of?
Sighs and leers and crocodile tears;
That’s what young men are made of.

What are young women made of, made of?
What are young women made of?
Rings and jings and other fine things;
That’s what young women are made of.

What are our sailors made of, made of?
What are our sailors made of?
Pitch and tar, pig-tail and scar;
That’s what our sailors are made of.

What are our soldiers made of, made of?
What are our soldiers made of?
Pipe clay and drill, the foeman to kill;
That’s what our soldiers are made of.

What are our nurses made of, made of?
What are our nurses made of?
Bushes and thorns and old cow’s horns;
That’s what our nurses are made of.

What are our fathers made of, made of?
What are our fathers made of?
Pipes and smoke and collars choke;
That’s what our fathers are made of.

What are our mothers made of, made of?
What are our mothers made of?
Ribbons and laces and sweet pretty faces;
That’s what our mothers are made of.

What are old men made of, made of?
What are old men made of?
Slippers that flop and a bald-headed top;
That’s what old men are made of.

What are old women made of, made of?
What are old women made of?
Reels, and jeels, and old spinning wheels;
That’s what old women are made of.

What are all folks made of, made of?
What are all folks made of?
Fighting a spot and loving a lot,
That’s what all folks are made of.

Attributed to Robert Southey (1774-1843): Southey, English poet and historian.
In familiar folk tradition, the popular ditty inevitably acquired additional verses,
written by authors unknown, until it became a ballad of some length.
Composited by Gloria T. Delamar in “Mother Goose: From Nursery to Literature”

I am beaming with gratitude this morning for a “golden oldie” memory from my childhood freshly awakened.

Memories of childhood
were the dreams that stayed
with you after you woke.
Julian Barnes

About James Browning

A seeker working to grow each day and be a better version of my self. Through sharing I commit myself deeper to my ideals and beliefs.
This entry was posted in Aging, Childhood, Perspective and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.