Jack Sprat by Anonymous

Jack Sprat could eat no fat
His wife could eat no lean
And so betwixt the two of them
They licked the platter clean

Jack ate all the lean,
Joan ate all the fat.
The bone they picked it clean,
Then gave it to the cat. 


Jack Sprat was wheeling,
His wife by the ditch.
The barrow turned over,
And in she did pitch.

Says Jack, “She’ll be drowned!”
But Joan did not reply,
“I don’t think I shall,
for the ditch is quite dry.”

Appearing in printed form as early as 1670, Jack Sprat was a popular rhyme. Many English folk rhymes were indictments of the politics of the day, or jabs at aristocrats or the Royal family. They could be sung freely in groups without fear of charges of sedition. Theories on the origin of Jack Sprat range from the court of King Charles 1, all the way back to the ransom of Richard the Lionheart, by his brother Prince John and his wife. Between the ransom and the lifestyle of John’s wife Joan, the country was nearly bankrupt.

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