mother goose

Jack be Nimble

Jack be nimble,
Jack be quick,
Jack jump over
The candlestick.

Jack be Nimble

Be Quick!

Jack be nimble! Even today this phrase expresses a suggestion to be quick and agile. The name Jack used to be only a nickname for John, but is now more and more frequently used as a stand-alone name.

The Pirate

Pirate ship

The nursery rhyme Jack be Nimble refers to an English privateer (later pirate) named Black Jack Smatt. Black Jack lived on Jamaica, in Port Royal, which during the Golden Age of Piracy was known as “The Wickedest City on Earth.” Black Jack was one of the most famous pirates of the Caribbean, particularly for the reason of being notoriously smart (and quick and nimble) to escape from authorities, who in his later pirate years wanted to capture and hang him. Jack Smatt was portrayed in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies as Jack Sparrow, played by talented and famous Johnny Depp.

Jumping Game

Jumping over the candlestick was an old medieval game. It originated from an ancient pagan tradition of jumping over fires. A person was supposed to jump over a burning candle so that the flame was not extinguished. This was seen as a good luck forecast.


I was Googling nursing rhyme books and I came across your site. The picture you have shown is the picture from the cover of my favorite nursing rhyme book and I am trying to find a replica of it. Some years back it had been misplaced and was never found. I was wondering if you knew the title of the book that this picture came from. Thank you.

Add new comment