Jack Be Nimble

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"Jack Be Nimble"
Roud #13902
Jack Be Nimble 1 - WW Denslow - Project Gutenberg etext 18546.jpg
William Wallace Denslow's illustrations for Jack Be Nimble, from a 1901 edition of Mother Goose
Written byTraditional
Publishedc. 1815
WrittenEngland
LanguageEnglish
FormNursery rhyme
 
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"Jack Be Nimble"
Roud #13902
Jack Be Nimble 1 - WW Denslow - Project Gutenberg etext 18546.jpg
William Wallace Denslow's illustrations for Jack Be Nimble, from a 1901 edition of Mother Goose
Written byTraditional
Publishedc. 1815
WrittenEngland
LanguageEnglish
FormNursery rhyme

'Jack Be Nimble' is an English language nursery rhyme. It has a Roud Folk Song Index number of 13902.

Lyrics[edit source | edit]

The most common version of the rhyme is:

Jack be nimble,
Jack be quick,
Jack jump over
The candlestick.[1]

Origins and meaning[edit source | edit]

Jack is a dog, in Denslow's version

The rhyme is first recorded in a manuscript of around 1815 and was collected by James Orchard Halliwell in the mid-nineteenth century.[1] Jumping candlesticks was a form of fortune telling and a sport. Good luck was said to be signalled by clearing a candle without extinguishing the flame.[1]

In Other Media[edit source | edit]

A variation of this rhyme is featured in the American Number 1 song , American Pie, by Don McLean in 1971. It goes as follows:

Jack be nimble,
Jack be quick
Jack Flash sat on a candlestick
'Cause fire is the devil's only friend.

Notes[edit source | edit]

  1. ^ a b c I. Opie and P. Opie, The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes (Oxford University Press, 1951, 2nd edn., 1997), pp. 226-7.