When She Was Bad She Was Horrid

How many remember the poem, There Was a Little Girl from “The Real Mother Goose?”

When our little girl began to show extreme moodiness, long before we knew anything about bipolar disorder, my husband and I would muse over this rhyme as we read it to her. “The Real Mother Goose,” copyrighted in 1916, is the bestselling hardcover children’s book of the 20th century. My mother read from it when I was a child and I read it to my children. Somehow, it got lost and I no longer have the book to read to my grandchilren, but, I can still picture the cover of it in my mind.

Here is the poem:

There Was a Little Girl

There was a little girl

Who had a little curl,

Right in the middle of her forehead,

When she was good,

She was good indeed,

But when she was bad she was horrid.

Many are familiar with the poem, but few realize that Henry Wadsworth Longfellow penned it. Longfellow’s son, Ernest, said his father, Henry, composed this poem for his second daughter. He put this rhyme to music and sang it, while pacing the floor with his baby girl in his arms. (One wonders if she was a colicky baby.)

The fifth line of the verse was originally written, “she was good indeed,” but later was changed to “she was very very good.” The following two verses were added and eventually published in “The Real Mother Goose:”

She stood on her head in her little trundle bed

With nobody by for to hinder

She screamed and she squalled and she yelled and she bawled

As she drummed her little feet against the winder

Her mother heard the noise and thought it was the boys

Playing in the empty attic

She ran upstairs and caught her unawares,

And spanked her most emphatic!

[That was back in the day when it was just fine to spank naughty children.]

Some nights, when we finally got our Tammy to sleep after an hour-long ordeal, my husband and I would snuggle on the couch, look in each other’s eyes, smile, and whisper, “When She Was Bad, She Was Horrid!”

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About dorothyruppert

Author of two books - God Placed Her in My Path - Lessons Learned From the Furnace of Bipolar Disorder -Sixty Days of Grace - God's Sufficiency for the Journey
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One Response to When She Was Bad She Was Horrid

  1. This post is so endearing. I have kids who that poem fits perfectly. WRITE ON!

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