Bultmann Reads Mother Goose
by Jack Lundquist
I–A: Hey diddle-diddle,
I-B: The cat and the fiddle,
II–A: The cow jumped over the moon,
II–B: The little dog laughed to see such sport,
III–: And the dish ran away with the spoon.
Authorship and Date
Internal evidence rejects the view that wehave here an original composition by Mary (Mother) Goose of Boston(1686–1743). The phrasing of I–A is definitely late eighteenthcentury, since the Goose Period would have rendered it "diddley-diddley" (and thus "fiddley" in I–B). Furthermore, the sequence "cat-cow-dog-dish" represents an obvious redaction and is a compilation ofat least four different accounts. Thus, the author of the piece isunknown, and its date set between 1780 and 1820. The Sitz imLeben of the Depression of 1815 may be reflected in III.2.
The received text is very corrupt. The mythological elementin II–A is typical of many other interpolations, as is the anthropomorphism in II–B. However, I–A may be original, excluding,of course, the "hey."3.
Stripped of its thought forms, the piece tells us of something revolutionary as existentially encountered by three animals, two cooking implements, and one musical instrument.
1. Discussed in F. Sauerkraut, Gooses Werke, vol. XXVII, pp. 825–906; G.F.W. Steinbauger, Gooserbrief, pp. 704–8636; Festschrift fur Baronvon Munchausen, pp. XIII–XX; R. Pretzelbender, Die Goosensinger vomBostom, p. 10.
2. See P. Katzenjammer in Goosengeschichtliche Schule Jahrbuch, vol.X.
3. Some attribute it to Mary's grandson, Wild Goose (1793–1849), andother Wild Goose's nephew, Cooked (1803–1865). Both views are challenged by A. Kegdrainer in the thirty volume prolegomenon, Gooseleiden, vol. XV.
4. F. Pfeffernusse contends it is an English translation of a German original by the infant Wagner. See his Goose und Volkgeist, pp. 38–52; see also his Geist und Volkgoose, pp. 27–46.
5. The authenticity of both II–A and II–B is poorly argued by the reactionary American Goosologist, Carl Sanbag in his Old Glory and Mother Goose (see vol. IV, The Winters in the South, p. 357).
6. The meaning of the word "hey" is now hopelessly obscure. See my articles on "Hey, That Ain't" and "Hey, What The" in Goosengrease,Fall, 1942.
7. Perhaps an eclipse of the moon?