ODD THOUGHTS: History remembers the pig

The darkness underlying nursery rhymes can be expanded to cover all manner of evil

By Bob Groeneveld


I was thinking about nursery rhymes and the darkness that lies beneath many of them.

Higgledy Piggledy My Black Hen was a nasty critique of Queen Elizabeth I, and Ring Around the Rosy was about the Black Death.

I realized that the pig stolen by Tom, Tom, the Piper’s Son might be a metaphor for evils perpetrated by many notorious leaders of history.

And this is where my brain went with that:


Tom, Tom, the piper’s son,

Stole a pig and away he run.

The pig was eat and Tom was beat,

Which sent him crying down the street.

When Tom rejoined society

He lived his life with piety,

But he never escaped notoriety,

Because everyone remembered the pig.

Tom, Tom, that son of a gun,

He stole the pig but it wasn’t any fun.

It overshadowed everything he’d done,

Because everyone remembers the pig.


Julius, Julius, the emperor,

He conquered more than anyone before,

But all he ever wanted was a whole lot more,

So they cut off his rule with a knife.

He put Rome’s ledgers in the black,

Made all of Rome the leader of the pack,

But on the Ides of March they stabbed him in the back,

Because everyone remembered the pig.

Julius, Julius, that son of a gun,

He stole his pig to be number one,

But it overshadowed any good he’d done,

Because everyone remembers the pig.


Napoleon was just a bit of a thing,

Just a little man who made himself a king.

But all of his victories had a hollow ring,

When they took him down at Waterloo.

He built better schools and better public health.

He made better laws, and he fought for better wealth.

But as soon as they could, they put him on the shelf,

Because everyone remembered the pig.

Napoleon, Napoleon, that son of a gun,

He stole his pig at the point of a gun.

It overshadowed all the good he’d done,

Because everyone remembers the pig.


Addie was a baddie, it cannot be denied.

Jews, Catholics, and anyone he could not abide

Were sent to concentration camps where millions died,

And in the end, he committed suicide.

He built pretty buildings and a popular car.

He tried to rule the whole world and got pretty far.

But now his name is a perpetual scar,

Because everyone remembers the pig.

Addie, Addie, that son of a gun:

The pig he stole soiled everyone,

It still overshadows all that Germany has done,

Because everyone remembers the pig.


Donald, Donald, the president,

Believes his lies are heaven-sent.

He spread hate and fear wherever he went,

And he threw civil rights in the trash.

White folks gave him a popular bump,

But if you’ve ever voted for Donald Trump,

You’re bound to end up in history’s dump,

Because everyone remembers the pig.

Donald, Donald, that son of a gun,

He’s stealing your pigs and he’s just begun.

He’s going to overshadow all America’s done,

Because History remembers the pig.

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