Wednesday, May 03, 2006

further puzzles offered by pigs in children's literature

Because of this image of the baby that is a pig (both visual and literary), in the classic Alice in Wonderland, paired with my intensive reading of Laura Ingalls Wilder, where poke bonnets abound and have a peculiar and restrictive relationship to vision, I thought that the old warning, "Don't buy a pig in a poke" referred to pigs wearing poke bonnets. And I knew somehow that it meant buyer beware and I figured that maybe if you meant to buy a baby, you'd accidently wind up with pig when you peered in, past the bonnet, at the face of the thing. Eventually, I began to puzzle why one would be buying a baby.

But apparantly a poke is kind of sack. Damn the internet.

Still, does anyone know of a poem, maybe written for children, maybe not, which ends like this,

"a blank in a blank, [pause] a pig in a poke."

In which the word "blank" does not rhyme with poke, but maybe the preceeding line does. Or maybe the rhyme scheme is even loser than that?


Blogger EL said...

It's weird, but it rings familiar to me, even though I don't know what it is. Faint childhood echo there.

I'll have to think about this.

10:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The pig in the poke which you shouldn't buy is related to not "letting the cat out of the bag." Unscrupulous seller types at a market or fair would sometimes substitute a cat (considered worthless) for a purchased piglet, in the poke. So if someone let the cat out of the bag-the game was up.

In any event, a buyer was better off carrying the squirming critter away loose.

Why do I know this? I have no idea.

11:29 AM  
Blogger zoe p. said...

the sad day I learned about the sack (wednesday), I simultaneously learned about the cat that went along with it and the whole scenario . . . it seems a little odd that one little market scene would produce two such enduring animal metaphors. anyway, that's why i posted on this, since it seemed to go with buford's fresh pig fetish . . .

as for the poem, i am still googling obsessively. it'll strike me at different times of the day, and i'll stop what i'm doing and try new combinations of words and phrases.

it's not amy lowell:

googling frost and "pig in a poke" suggests that maybe he does use the phrase somewhere. but i can't pin it down.

and it's not robert louis stevenson's underwoods. but i did kind of think it might be in his "child's garden of verse" see both:

wait a second. my childhood copy did NOT have something called "foreign children" in it. or maybe my parent's censored that one. it did have "foreign lands," that i remember.

oh, i'm getting a ton of work done now . . .

3:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah-A Child's Garden of Verses...I wore my copy out when very small! It was a large format, plastic coated volume.
I sort of remember an illustration of "Winken, Blinken, and Nod" where they were floating through the night sky in their shoe. It was, to my child's eye, literally dreamy. I used to picture it as I fell asleep.
I wonder what I would think of it if I could see it now.
I am partial to old fashioned black and white children's book illustrations. They seem to stimulate the imagination more than the more complete (though often quite beautiful) illustrations one sees more now.

9:19 AM  
Blogger zoe p. said...

"I am partial to old fashioned black and white children's book illustrations. They seem to stimulate the imagination more than the more complete (though often quite beautiful) illustrations one sees more now."

that's such an interesting suggestion, a poverty of the images . . . i've wondered why i'm a little nonplussed by the rich, textured, collage type illustrations that are popular now . . . my friend the children's librarian always has a lot of those lying around . . . and they never grab me.

however, my copy of "a child's garden" was somehow a kind of faux quilted, applique, embroidery thing. and while the illustrations have had an effect on my interior decorating aesthetic, the images don't and didn't dominate the imaginary realm associated with the poems.

10:19 PM  

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