Monday's boy has a beautiful face (2023)

Monday's boy has a beautiful face (1)

Illustration by Blanche Fisher Wright

  • From today,21.09.2013and on the first full day of fall, this post was viewed more than 50,000 times. :-) If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy the mother goose discussion:I had a nut...

I just received a used book.An anthology of children's poems., which I will talk more about in a later post. Just say that I really like it.

After writing reviews of serious poetry by serious poets, I wanted to try something different: a well-known mother goose lullaby, which is not to say that a lullaby can't be taken seriously. One of the most interesting aspects of Mother Goose lullabies is how incredibly interesting they actually are! I suspect that most of us, when we first read it, think of it as nothing more than a fluffy dogerel. (Modern poets have tried to write rhymes in the style of the originals, but to me, at least, they always feel like they're made up.) In fact, almost every Mother Goose rhyme has a rich history behind it. 馃嚙馃嚪 I chose Monday's Child for the demo. As of this sentence, I don't know more about the poem than you do (and probably less). To me it's just a sweet rhyme. But let's see what we find.

Here is the rhyme. Most of you know him well.

Monday's boy has a pretty face.
The child Tuesday is full of grace,
Wednesday's child is full of sorrow,
Thursday's child has a long way to go
Friday child love and give,
Saturday's boy works hard for a living.
And the child born on Saturday
It's nice and happy, good and happy.

So, as always, methodically, let's go from more to less. The most important thing is: who was the "mother goose"? Scholars seem to agree: she is a mythical character whose name probably derives from the title of Charles Perrault's collection of fairy tales "Tales de ma m猫re l'oye" or "Tales of Mother Goose". The collection was published in 1697. The Britannica states that "Mother Goose" is derived from a French expression that roughly translates to "Tales of the Old Women."Britannica Encyclopedia馃嚙馃嚪 馃嚙馃嚪 馃嚙馃嚪 馃嚙馃嚪 The Encyclopedia Britannica Deluxe Edition. Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, 2010].

Both Britannica and Wikipedia mention claims about the real life of Bostonian Elizabeth Goose. The claim that Elizabeth Goose was the origin of Mother Goose, however lovely, is categorically and sadly denied by Britannica.

The persistent legend that Mother Goose was a real Bostonian, Elizabeth Goose (Vergoose or Vertigoose), whose grave in Boston's Old Granary Burying Ground remains a tourist attraction, is false. No evidence has been found for the rhyming book she is said to have written in 1719. The first American edition of Mother Goose Rhymes was a reprint of the Newbery edition published by Isaiah Thomas in 1785. [ibid]

If you're curious to read more about this "enduring" urban myth, Wikipediaoffer something elseEducation.

The poem

The poem, like many if not most nursery rhymes, is accented. A poem written in meter, such as B. iambic pentameter, would be called a stressed syllabic poem. This means that the accents (stressed syllables) are the same (or almost all) on each line.mithat the number of syllables in each verse is the same (or almost all). In iambic pentameter there are mainly 10 syllables per line, and of those 10 syllables almost always 5 are stressed.

  • I was "fair face means馃嚙馃嚪 I've seen this query on my dashboard multiple times. It seems that this is a good place to answer the question. Fair means: beautiful, but also promising and happy. Therefore, in the sense of fortune telling, the son of Monday means that the son of Monday is not only beautiful, but also promises a good and happy life.

WithinScharfPoetry, the poet counts only the number ofaccentsper line,no syllablesyes onlystressedsyllables. So the mother goose song would look like this:

we arediameterSohnweatherfartowardso,
SexdiameterSohnesamorIngebutin g,
sessionfirst day isSohnIt worksStoptowardsLifein g,
It's inSohnThat's itbornnosabPlacees
ESintestinethe objectalegre, zBoamiAlegre.

Four stressed syllables per verse. What does that tell us? Britannica tells us the following:

The earliest surviving copy is from 1791, but an edition is believed to have appeared or was planned as early as 1765 and was probably edited by Oliver Goldsmith, who may also have composed some of the verse. 馃嚙馃嚪ibid]

First, we know thataccent/syllableThe meter (for example, iambic pentameter) was only firmly established between 1570 and 1590. Chaucer had written iambic pentameter (not empty verse), but his innovations were largely forgotten until the Elizabethan era rediscovered the meter. We also have reason to believe that many of Mother Goose's poems were probably poems passed down through memory. one of the poemsi had a nut, thought to derive from Catherine of Aragon's visit to England in 1506: Catherine was betrothed to Prince Arthur and later married King Henry VIII when Prince Arthur died.

So given those two pieces of information, it makes sense that these nursery rhymes would have a heavy accent. They reflect an earlier poetic tradition, possibly going back to Anglo-Saxon music and language. These lullabies arealternativepoems, and even allowing that Goldsmith may have written some of the verse, he seems to have imitated the accented language of the originals.

The poemmonday childOddly enough, it wasnoin the original edition, but first recorded in the work of AE Bray in 1838Devonshire Traditions(Volume II, pages 287-288). That is not to say that the Monday Boy is an 1838 invention. As we shall see, the tradition (from which this proverbial poem derives) goes back at least to the 1570s.

fortune teller

If the tradition of this poem can be dated to the 1570s, it certainly predates 1570. And what was that tradition? Divination I have read some comments on this poem that present it as nothing more than a mnemonic aid to help children remember the days of the week, but I think the poem is much more interesting than that. It turns out that the poem stems from a tradition of prophecy. People have always wanted a way to predict future events, and we've always been crazy about predictions. in your bookOral and Literary Culture in England, 1500-1700, author Adam Fox gives us the following:

The Elizabethan writer Thomas Nashe recalled how, as a boy growing up in Loweroft, Suffolk, in the 1570s, he was fascinated by the beliefs and fables solemnly handed down by old women.Monday's boy has a beautiful face (2)around the home fire.

I have heard old Beldam gossip, warming his knees very curiously with a coal-scraper in the quarrel, and telling young men to be careful what day they cut their nails, and saying what strange luck one must have on the weekday he is born. ; He shows how many years a man should live by the number of wrinkles on his forehead, and trust not one bit of the difference in fortune when they curve up and down. Anyone who has a wart on his chin will confidently assert that he does not need relatives: if he gets married, he too will distinguish between the position of the wart on the right and on the left. When he was a child he was a great listener to them and had all the spells at hand for him, like good morning and hello. 馃嚙馃嚪

According to the old woman's catechism, Friday was the day of bad luck. "Now it's Friday, your old ladies say, the unhappiest day of the week." However, all the milkmaids knew that a dream would definitely come true on Friday night. 馃嚙馃嚪page of book182]

(*) John Melton, Astrologaster, or, The Figure-Caster (London, 1620), 53, always 45-7, 67,69,71; Thomas Nashe, The Terrors of the Night (1594), in The Works of Thomas Nashe, ed. McKerrow and Wilson, i. 369

Is that a smoking gun or what? There are many reasons to believe thatmonday childIt's much older than the firstprintedIt appeared in 1838. Also noteworthy is Nashe's emphasis on old women (the old woman, or mother goose, as the French call her). Women were the poetic memory and storytellers of culture. In fact, there seems to have been a cottage industry in guessing rhymes.monday childhe has some siblings.

Sunday's child is full of grace.
Monday kid has a full face
Tuesday's boy is serious and sad.
Monday's boy has a beautiful face (3)Wednesday's child is cheerful and happy.
Thursday child is tip and thief
Friday child is free to give
Saturday's boy works hard for a living.

Born on Monday, beautiful face;
Born on Tuesday full of grace;
Born on cheerful and happy Wednesday;
born on Thursday, wise and sad;
Born on Friday, given by God;
Born on Saturday, earn well;
Born on Sunday, happy and cheerful.

Sunday's child is full of grace.
The boy of Mondays is beautiful;
Tuesday boy loves to run,
Wednesday's boy has a good heart;
Thursday's boy is very smart,
Friday's boy will never part;
Saturday's boy has a good heart. 馃嚙馃嚪page of book105]

In the book,Baby Stories: Superstitions and stories from old women around the world related to pregnancy, childbirth and baby care,Author Rosalind Franklin attributes these variants to the West Country of the United Kingdom, Scotland, and the United States, respectively. If there was one thing that distinguished the first United States, it was the optimism and hope of its immigrants. I don't think it's a coincidence that the variant found in the US is the most optimistic and hopeful (although the Scottish variant is not far behind and many American immigrants were Scottish). The most pessimistic of the variants belongs to the United Kingdom.

But there are more divinatory rhymes. GF Northall, author ofEnglish folk rhymes; a collection of traditional verses about places and people, customs, superstitions, etc. (Apparently collectors of really very short poems, like really very long titles, have found two other variants:

born on monday
confront Clara;
born on a tuesday
Full of the grace of God;
born on a wednesday
happy and happy;
born on thursday
sour and sad;
born on a friday
given by God;
born on a saturday
work to live;
Born on a Sunday
we will never lack;
This is how the week ends
And there is no end.

born on monday
confront Clara;
born on a tuesday
Full of the grace of God;
born Wednesday,
sour and sad;
born Thursday,
happy and happy;
born on a friday
dice worthy;
born on saturday
work hard to live;
born on sunday
You will never know what you want. 馃嚙馃嚪page of book161]

But what if you need to know what day of the week you want to get married? In theAnnals of the American Philosophical Society, Bd. 25, we find the following:

monday for health, tuesday for wealth,
Wednesday the best day of all,
Thursday of defeats, Friday of crosses,
Saturday without a day

Or if you prefer:

Monday for wealth;
Health Tuesday;
Wednesday is the best day of all;
Thursday of crosses;
Friday for losses;
Bad luck Saturday 馃嚙馃嚪page 160]

What is the best day to sneeze?

If you sneeze on Monday, sneeze dangerously;
Sneeze on Tuesday, you kiss a stranger;
If you sneeze on Wednesday, you'll get a letter;
Sneeze on Thursday and you'll have something better;
If you sneeze on Friday, expect great sadness;
Sneeze on Saturday, meet a friend tomorrow;
Sneezing on a Sunday seeks your safety
The devil will haunt you all week. 馃嚙馃嚪page 167]

And do you remember Thomas Nashe? He wrote that old Beldam mumps"tell young people to be careful what day their nails break"?

Cut your nails on Mondays, cut them for news;
Cut them a new pair of shoes on Tuesday;
Cut them on Wednesday, cut them for health;
Cut them on Thursday, that will increase your wealth;
Cut them on Friday, you will dismember them for tribulation;
Cut them on Saturday, you will make a trip;
Cut 'em on Sunday, you cut 'em for bad
All week you are ruled by the devil. 馃嚙馃嚪Page 167-168]

So all this is to saymonday childit arises from a rich tradition of prognostic rhymes and proverbial traditions. In fact, our language is full of it.

A red sky in the morning is the sailor's warning.
A red sky at night is a sailor's delight.

or the wayUEI heard the rhyme ofyograndmother was:

Red skies in the morning, helpless sailors.
Red sky at night, pleases sailors.

Poems like this are a poetic stream, deeply rooted in our language and culture, but like Beldam's, it is often overlooked or neglected. These women, mothers and grandmothers, entertained, raised and taught children of all generations, and their songs, poems and stories are the great pillars of all great literature. Her domain is literature, which even self-proclaimed feminists ignore in an effort to acknowledge their more "literary" brethren. Shakespeare would be half a poet if it weren't for his amazing knowledge and memory of proverbs. His poetry is literal.fillingwith proverbial tradition. While Ben Jonson understood human nature through his humor, Shakespeare drew human nature from our proverbs. Personally, I think it's no coincidence that one of the most realistic characters in all of his works is the Nurse (old man Beldam) in Romeo and Juliet. I have no doubt that Shakespeare in his youth was as fascinated by his own mother goose as Thomas Nashe, his contemporary.whole booksthey are dedicated to proverbs that he must have remembered from his childhood. Here is just one example:

the proverbbeautiful and dumb, black and proud, long and lazy, small and loud, is the root,farsighted, Like thismonday child馃嚙馃嚪 The proverb becomes a series of poignant jokes in Iago's dangerously conniving mind:

jagoI'm actually my invention
It comes out of my cake like the slime from the frieze -
He rips the brains out and everything. But my muse works
And this is how it is delivered:
If she is fair and wise, fair and intelligent,
One is for use, the other uses it.

DesdemonaWell praised! What if she's black and funny?

jagoIf she is black and therefore has an intelligence
You will find a white that matches your blackness.

DesdomonaWorse and worse.

emeliaAnd if it is fair and foolish?

jagoShe's never been a fool she was fair
Because even his madness gave him an heir.

DesdemonaThose are dear old paradoxes to make the fools laugh in the tavern.
what a pathetic compliment you have for her
Is that dirty and silly?

jagoNone is as dirty and foolish as this one,
But he plays tricks that the just and the wise do.

  • Surveillance: For thisit did not have the same meanings in Elizabethan times as it does today. Although Jago teases Desdemona sexually that he will find a white man (her womb of his) "to match the blackness of him" (Othello's penis), the appellationFor thisIt usually referred to darker complexioned Europeans (including the English), such as Italians and some Scots, known for their dark hair and eyes. the beautifulemilia lanierFor example, she is sometimes identified in Shakespeare's sonnets as the "dark lady", claims to be his lover, and is known to be Italian with a "dark" complexion. She was a musician, feminist, and poet of considerable talent.

The proverb itself is a bit of fortune-telling, much like Monday's child, and may have originated from such a rhyme (each of the lines inmonday childis basically a bit of proverbial knowledge).

At this point, I can't help but add my usual jab to the free verse. Ask yourself: Isn't it good to remember a rhyming prophecy? I can't think of anything more boring than prophecy in free verse. In short, all these poems reveal the richness and joy embodied in the sounds of our language. Modern poets lost a lot by turning away from language music (one of which was bookselling). Mother Goose's nursery rhymes still sell better than any modern free verse poet (much to his chagrin when I mention it).


So what about the days of the week. Why is Monday marked one way and Tuesday another?

Is there a rhyme or reason?

The most likely answer is the first. The characterizations probably reflect nothing more than the convenience of the rhyme. what rhymes withcarabut驴Gracia?On the other hand, many of Mother Goose's seemingly nonsensical and harmless poems refer to actual historical events (and often to events that did not end well). Goosey Goosey Gander was a warning not to house Catholic priests. During the Tudor era, when the Protestant religion was at its height, harboring Catholic priests (supposedly praying in Latin) was punishable by death. Has this threat of execution also extended to the children of the family? Possibly.

Goosey Goosey Gander is somewhat similar to the political and propaganda poems that children sing and sing in North Korea.Second handsinging in the Soviet Union (although Goosey Goosey isn't that clumsy, or at least has softened with age).

The aforementioned book Baby Lore by Rosalind Franklingives a good summarythat different cultures have associated with the days of the week. The person is quickly reminded of astrology. No one could, by reading the personality traits of different days, consistently identify their own day. The descriptions often contradict each other, and if you're a fortune teller, this is oneBoaStuff. Is that what you want. Cover all your bases.

Suffice it to say that Sunday is the Sabbath and no pious Christian will associate negativity with the Sabbath. The wise (Christian) child will always choose to be born on Sunday. Friday, on the other hand, was the day of Christ's crucifixion. Children born on Friday are treated well, but if you sneeze or cut your nails on Friday, you get what you deserve馃嚙馃嚪 Friday is losses and crosses.

Here are some proverbs, phrases and proverbial phrases (mine) abridged from the bookProverbs, phrases and proverbial idioms: from English writings mainly before 1500馃嚙馃嚪 These are the proverbs that lead the way to the rhymes and tales of the Beldams, at whose feet the likes of Shakespeare and Nashe have sat.

M618For thisMount

1359 Dorado de San Nicol谩s in EnglishGuilds, edited by Toulmin Smith: The Second (morning nest) will be on Blake Monday.1435 chronicles of londonThat is why today is still called Black Monday, and after that we will spend a lot of time here.c1443 chronicles of londonThat is why many men call it Black Monday to this day.

M619Aon Mondaydeal with (gift) is a great pain for children.c1475 RawlinsonE segunda-feira-ys hansell ys grete pane para codhdryn.

T280 Thursdayand Sunday are cousins1483Caxtongolden legendAnd so the saying that Thursday and Probing were cosyns was funny. Because one was as solemn as the other.

F621nowFreitagit shines and now it rains fastc1385Chaucer: Like saying Friday easy, now he's calming down, now he's ruling fast.

F622sled is theFreitagevery week the samec1385Chaucer: It's Friday for everyone.

F623have bile (many)Fridayon someone's forehead c1475promise of marriage: This does not happen on previous Fridays. (Fage, I thinkmeans flattery.)

S907the one that hangsDomingoshould still hang on Monday.1546Heywood: Well, whoever is connected to a probe (he said) should hang me an uncut Mondaie.

Monday's boy has a beautiful face (5)Here, instead, the American proverbs are theDictionary of American Proverbs.


  1. Monday is the key of the week.
  2. The religion on Monday is better than the procession on Sunday.
  3. That's how Monday goes, that's how it goes all week.


  1. Not every day is Friday; there is also Thursday.
  2. Friday and the week are rarely the same. 馃嚙馃嚪Notice how this proverb has survived through the centuries.!)
  3. Friday started, never ended.
  4. a.Friday is the nicest or dirtiest day.b.Friday is the prettiest or dirtiest day of the week.
  5. Never start anything important on Friday.
  6. a.Thank God is friday.b.The weekend starts on Friday night.


  1. The Saturday that has begun never ends.
  2. The Saturday cleanup doesn't last until Sunday, but the Sunday cleanup lasts all week./The fluttering on Saturday is brief.


  1. Sunday greases the wheels of the week.

I find it strange that none of the proverb books contain the proverbial knowledge of Mother Goose.monday child馃嚙馃嚪 I think it's an oversight by the authors, but typical.

Anyway, I could go into the meaning behind the names of the days of the week, but that's going too far and I doubt the knowledge is widespread among the generations that inherited Mother Goose. I doubt the origin of the word has been thought ofWednesdayand this Wednesday's child is "full of grief." After all, the Wednesday boy is "joyful and jovial" in another version of the poem.

But there it is. You know as much as I do and probably more.


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