Old Mother Goose When She Wanted to Wander

Old Mother Goose,
When she wanted to wander,
Would ride through the air
On a very fine gander.

Old Mother Goose When She Wanted to Wander


This nursery rhyme has its beginning in an old English pantomime that the Covent Garden Theatre first performed in 1806 on Boxing Day (26th of December. On that day, wealthy households in Great Britain used to give gifts to their servants.)

In the pantomime's opening scenes, Squire Bugle punishes Colin and Colenette cruelly for their illicit love affair. A good witch then turns the lovers magically into Harlequin and Columbine, while Bugle becomes a clown.

So if the antagonist in the original production was a squire (a nobleman), who replaced it with a Jew? How the Antisemitic overtone gets into the rhyme that later gets published is unknown, but maybe it was just characteristic of the era.

The Full Version

This is the full version of the rhyme as it was published by Philadelphia Union in 1897:

Old Mother Goose,
When she wanted to wander,
Would ride through the air
On a very fine gander.

Mother Goose had a house,
Twas built in a wood,
Where an owl at the door
For sentinel stood.

This is her so Jack,
A plain-looking lad;
He is not very good,

She sent him to market,
A live goose he bought,
"Here, Mother," says he,
"It will not go for nought."

Jack's goose and her gander
Grew very fond;
They'd both eat together,
Or swim in one pond.

Jack found one morning,
As I have been told,
His goose laid him
An egg of pure gold.

Jack rode to his mother,
The news for to tell,
She called him a good boy,
And said it was well.

Jack sold his gold egg
To a rogue of a Jew,
Who cheated him out of
The half of his due.

Then Jack went a-courting
A lady so gay,
As fair as the lily,
And sweet as the May.

The Jew and the Squire
Came behind his back,
And began to belabour
The sides of poor Jack.

Then old Mother Goose
That instant came in,
And turned her son Jack
Into famed Harlequin.

She then, with her wand,
Touched the lady so fine,
And turned her at once
Into sweet Columbine.

The gold egg into the sea
Was thrown then—
When Jack jumped in,
And got the egg back again.

The Jew got the goose,
Which he vowed he would kill.
Resolving at once
His pockets to fill.

Jack's Mother came in,
And caught the goose soon,
And, mounting its back,
Flew up to the moon.


Children's Activities

Sing the song: Old Mother Goose is perfect for singing, as it is fairly easy to learn and quite repetitive. Kids of all ages will love singing along.

Make masks: Making masks of the characters from the poem is a fun craft activity. Kids can use basic materials to create amazing and memorable works of art.