Jack and Jill

Jack and Jill went up the hill
To fetch a pail of water.
Jack fell down and broke his crown,
And Jill came tumbling after.


Up Jack got, and home did trot,
As fast as he could caper,
To old Dame Dob, who patched his nob
With vinegar and brown paper.

Jack and Jill went up the hill

An Allegory of the Moon

This nursery rhyme has several different interpretations. The most likely of those connect it to our closest celestial body, the Moon. The verse speaks about water, which in the oceans is moving up and down daily, caused, of course, by lunar gravitation. The height of the tides is not always the same—the level ascends on the days the Moon is waxing (went up the hill), and is on its highest with the full moon and diminishes again during the waning period (fell down and broke his crown).

A book, written in the thirteenth century by Icelandic historian and poet Snorri Sturluson about Norse (Germanic) mythology describes how a boy named Hjúki (Jack) and a girl named Gil (Jill), while they were fetching water from a nearby well, were taken from the earth to the moon. Linguists have determined that the names of the children could be derived from the Swedish verbs “jakka” which means to pile together and “bila” which means to dissolve.

A Tax Reform

However, in England, this nursery rhyme is sometimes thought as describing the situation in the 17th century when King Charles I made a tax reform on alcoholic beverages. At first, he was vetoed by the Parliament, but then he found the solution in letting the tax remain the same but reducing the volume of a jack (½ pint measure) and gill (Jill, ¼ pint).

French Revolution

Yet another meaning of this rhyme explains that Jack was King Louis XVI of France and Jill Queen Marie Antoinette who were both murdered in 1793, during the Reign of Terror of the French Revolution.

Midsummer Night’s Dream

Coming back to the first suggestion, Shakespeare ended his “Midsummer Night’s Dream,” a story where the Moon is an essential and symbolic figure, mentioning Jack and Jill:

When thou wak'st,
Thou tak'st
True delight
In the sight
Of thy former lady's eye;
And the country proverb known,
That every man should take his own,
In your waking shall be shown.
Jack shall have Jill;
Nought shall go ill;
And all shall be well.

Sheet music