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Otters Oddites

Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. All the kings horses and all the kings men, couldn't put Humpty together again.

Yes. Today does seem familiar. Because I started yesterday with Mr. Dumpty as well.


Yesterday was a teaser. (actually, I wrote the intro and then remembered what day it was, and said, "HD can wait until tomorrow.")

So today, you get your Humpty Dumpty post. And as a treat, I'll be including the entire rhyme, not just the last four lines that everyone knows.

But first, I need to ask, why is Humpty Dumpty always represented as an egg? Is it because of the fact that if HD was a person, it'd be too graphic for kids?

Go back and re-read the rhyme. Nowhere in the rhyme does it say HD was an egg. And he couldn't have been. Because giant, clothed eggs don't exist.


And Humpty Dumpty was real.


Yes. HD was real. He wasn't a person, though. But if he wasn't a person, and wasn't an egg, what in the name of all that's holy was he?


Humpty Dumpty was a cannon.

During the English Civil War, the forces that supported King Charles I had it built. And it was a feared weapon. The Cavaliers, (royalist forces supporting the king), used Humpty Dumty the cannon to great effect against the Roundheads. (forces supporting parliament.)


The Roundheads learned to rethink the impending battle when they saw HD rolling up. They knew it would lay waste to their troops.

And that's where the full rhyme comes in:

In sixteen hundred and forty-eight,

When England suffered pains of state,

The Roundheads laid siege to Colchester town

where the kings men still fought for the crown.

There one-eyed Thompson stood on the wall,

a gunner with the deadliest aim of all.

From St. Mary's tower the cannon he fired,

Humpty Dumpty was his name.

Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall,

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.

All the kings horses and all the kings men,

couldn't put Humpty together again.

The Cavaliers held Colchester. And they raised up Humpty to the church tower, where it would have a clear line of fire on the oncoming Roundhead forces. And it killed many of the enemy.


But the Roundheads had been gaining strength. They didn't have a cannon that was the equal of HD, but they had a lot of them. And they concentrated their fire on the church tower.

Eventually, the tower was knocked down by the barrage, and HD fell into the marsh land surrounding the church. Royalist forces, using their horses were able to recover the cannon, but it was damaged beyond repair. So, the kings horses and men couldn't put it back together again.


So, why do we picture Humpty Dumpty as an egg?

The blame lies fully on the shoulders of Lewis Carroll. When he was writing 'Through The Looking Glass', Alice talked with Humpty Dumpty, who was conveniently sitting on a wall.


The illustrator of the book, playing on the whimsy of the story, made HD egg shaped. And it stuck.

The book was insanely popular when it was released, and a whole generation of kids grew up believing that HD was nothing more than a whimsical rhyme about an anthropomorphic egg. And the last four lines of the original rhyme didn't do anything to inform people of HD's real identity.


Remember yesterday when I asked the question, "Have you ever wondered about the crap we tell kids?" Well, Humpty Dumpty is a prime example of what I was talking about. We bemoan all the violence in todays society, and we blame video games. I say, we put the blame where it belongs; On the nursery rhymes our parents teach us! By the time we play our first violent video game, we are already indoctrinated into violence by our nursery rhymes!

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