Half-Alphabet Nursery Rhymes

By Eckler, A. Ross | Word Ways, November 2006 | Go to article overview

Half-Alphabet Nursery Rhymes


Eckler, A. Ross, Word Ways


In July 2006 B.D. Stillion wrote

Everywhere [on the Web] I see mentioned Eckler's clever and masterful nursery rhyme lipograms, but nowhere do I see a reference of where they might be available to read (other than "Mary Had a Little Lamb") ... You are [also] credited with "Little Jack Homer" and most [Web] pages at least imply if not outright state that there is an entire collection. Can you please refer me to a place where I can find them?

Well, no, I can't--because no such place exists. In the Aug 1969 Word Ways I wrote "Mary Had a Lipogram" which featured her minus the letters A,E,T,H,S in turn, and as a lagniappe I wrote of her using only half the alphabet. It's time to validate these Internet claims and provide readers with such a collection. Single-letter lipograms are not much of a challenge, so I have written half-alphabet ones for a variety of nursery rhymes. To keep the job from becoming inordinately difficult, I have tailored the half-alphabets to the individual stories.

Old King Cole (20 letters ABCDEFGHIKLMNOPRSUWY, using ACEFHILMNOPRS)

   Old King Cole was a merry old soul,
   And a merry old soul was he;
   He called for his pipe, and he called for his bowl,
   And he called for his fiddlers three

   Emperor Chan is a frolicsome man,
   A frolicsome man is he;
   He calls for his pipe and he calls for his fan,
   As he hears a fine cello (Chinee)

Hickory, Dickory (18 letters ACDEHIKLMNOPRSTUWY, using ACDGKLNOPRTUW)

   Hickory dickory dock, the mouse ran up the clock,
   The clock struck one, the mouse ran down,
   Hickory dickory dock

   Pocono rococo rock, a pack-rat ran up a clock;
   Clang, clang! Clock rang, and rat ran down--
   Pocono rococo rock

Little Jack Horner (21 letters ABCDEGHIJKLMNOPRSTUWY, using ADEILNOPRSTUY)

   Little Jack Horner sat in a corner,
   Eating his Christmas pie;
   He put in his thumb and pulled out a plum,
   And said, "What a good boy am I!"
   Little Sid Snell sat in an ell
   To eat a Yuletide pie;
   Sid put in a spoon, pried out a prune,
   And said "No one's sated as I"

Jack Be Nimble (20 letters ABCDEHIJKLMNOPQRSTUV, using ABEFILMNOPRTV)

   Jack be nimble, Jack be quick,
   Jack jump over the candlestick

   Bill be nimble, be not lame,
   Bill leap over an open flame

Rock-a-Bye Baby (20 letters ABCDEFGHIKLNOPRSTUWY, using ABCDEFIKNORTW)

   Rock-a-bye baby on the treetop,
   When the wind blows the cradle will rock,
   When the bough break the cradle will fall
   And down will come cradle, baby and all

   Rock, tender infant, in crown of a tree,
   To-and-fro wind can rock crib for free;
   Wind tore crib off crown--it went down in a trice,
   And infant went too (eek! not a bit nice)

Jack Sprat (21 letters ABCDEFHIJKLMNOPRSTUWY, using ACDEFHILMNOST)

   Jack Sprat could eat no fat,
   His wife could eat no lean;
   And so between them both, you see,
   They licked the platter clean

   Daniel Chat did eat no fat,
   His mate did eat no lean,
   So he and she (as one can see)
   Left all the dishes clean

Jack and Jill (21 letters ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPRSTUW, using ACDEFHILNORTW)

   Jack and Jill went up the hill
   To fetch a pail of water;
   Jack fell down and broke his crown,
   And Jill came tumbling after

   Nance and Will did reach the hill
   To fetch a can of water;
   Will fell down with dented crown,
   And Nance then followed after

Humpty Dumpty (20 letters ACDEFGHIKLMNOPRSTUWY, using AEFGHILNORSTW)

   Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
   Humpty Dumpty had a great fall,
   All the king's horses and all the king's men
   Couldn't put Humpty together again

   Willie Nillie sits on a wall;
   Willie Nillie has a great fall;
   All regal horses and all regal men
   Fail to get Willie together again

Little Miss Muffet (20 letters ABCDEFGHILMNOPRSTUWY, using ABDEHIMNOPRST)

   Little Miss Muffet sat on a turret,
   Eating her curds and whey,
   There came a big spider,
   And he sat down beside her,
   And frightened Miss Muffet away

   Barbara Barber sat in her arbor
   To eat tender raspberries (smart! … 

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