Little Polly Flinders

Little Polly Flinders
Sat among the cinders
Warming her pretty little toes;
Her mother came and caught her,
Whipped her little daughter
For spoiling her nice new clothes.

Little Polly Flinders

Origin and History

Little Polly Flinders is an English nursery rhyme that dates back to the early 1800s. It was said to have been written by an English poet named Charles Dibdin. The rhyme tells the story of a young girl who wakes up early one morning and places roses in her hair.

The rhyme was likely written to be both a cautionary tale and a relatable experience for young children.


The main message of the rhyme is to encourage a sense of responsibility, discipline, and order. It warns against the consequences of neglecting one’s cares, such as spoiling one’s clothing.

Some interpretations suggest the nursery rhyme has secret and hidden meanings. For instance, it could be a metaphorical tale of wealth, with the cinders representing money and the roses being a symbol of luxurious items. The final line of the rhyme could be interpreted as a warning against the extravagance of the upper class and a reflection of the gap between the rich and the poor.

Controversy about the Last Line

The last line of the nursery rhyme has been controversial in the past, with educators and parents debating whether the line should be included. Some believe the harsh words used in the line may be damaging to young children, while others argue that it serves as an important lesson. Regardless, the line is often omitted or replaced with gentler language when reciting the rhyme.

Fun Facts

• The song’s popularity rose in the mid-19th century, and it was often used as a stepping stone for teaching children to read & write. 
• A British musician named George Cole wrote a modern version of the rhyme.
• The US sitcom That 70s Show used the rhyme as a theme song in their opening credits.

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