There was an old woman, as I've heard tell,
She went to the market her eggs for to sell;
She went to the market, all on a market-day,
And she fell asleep on the king's highway.
There came by a pedlar, whose name was Stout,
He cut her petticoats round about;
He cut her petticoats up to the knees,
Which made the old woman to shiver and freeze.
When this old woman first did wake,
She began to shiver, and she began to shake;
She began to wonder, and she began to cry --
'Lawkamercyme, this is none of I!
'But if it bet, as I do hope it be,
I've a little dog at home, and he'll know me;
If it be I, he'll wag his little tail,
And if it be not I, he'll loudly bark and wail.'
Home went the little woman, all in the dark;
Up got the little dog, and he began to bark;
He began to bark, so she began to cry --
'Lawkamercyme, this is none of I !'
Jacobs' Notes and References
SOURCE Halliwell, Nursery Rhymes.
PARALLELS It is possible that this is an Eastern 'sell': it occurs at any rate as the first episode in Fitzgerald's translation of Jami's Saldámán and Absál. Jami, ob. 1492, introduces the story to illustrate the perplexities of the problem of individuality in a pantheistic system.
Lest, like the simple Arab in the tale,
I grow perplext, O God ! 'twixt ME and THEE,
If I -- this Spirit that inspires me whence?
If THOU -- then what this sensual impotence?
In other words, M. Bourget's Cruelle Enigme. The Arab yokel coming to Baghdad is fearful of losing his identity, and ties a pumpkin to his leg before going to sleep. His companion transfers it to his own leg. The yokel awaking is perplexed like the pantheist.
If I -- the pumpkin why on you?
If you -- then where am I, and WHO?
Jacobs, Joseph, ed. More English Fairy Tales. New York: G. P Putnam's Sons, 1894.
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