Three Blind Mice

Three blind mice. Three blind mice.
See how they run. See how they run.
They all ran after the farmer's wife,
Who cut off their tails with a carving knife,
Did you ever see such a sight in your life,
As three blind mice?

The nursery rhyme Three Blind Mice, as we know it today, was published in 1842. However, the first version of it appeared already in 1609. The original version was quite different from the later one:

Three Blinde Mice,
Three Blinde Mice,
Dame Iulian,
Dame Iulian,
the Miller, and his merry olde Wife,
she scrapte her tripe licke thou the knife.

Queen Mary I

The most probable meaning of this verse goes back to the counter-reformation. The British Queen Mary I captured three Protestant Bishops, and before execution, blinded them in 1555. The three Anglican Bishops were noblemen Hugh Latimer, Nicolas Ridley, and Thomas Cranmer. The "farmer's wife" in the rhyme refers to the Queen.


Interestingly, many composers have named their compositions Three Blind Mice. We have Symphonic variation from Joseph Holbrook; Joseph Haydn called a theme in his Symphony 83 Three Blind Mice; Havergal Brian, a British composer, based one of his orchestral work on this rhyme.


Another exciting thing is mouse symbology in different cultures. While in Europe, mice were connected to witchcraft, disease, and other bad things, in some other cultures, things are entirely different. In India, there is even a temple where these animals run freely. Some Native American tribes considered mice as brothers and helpers of humankind.

Sheet music