Robin and Richard
Were two pretty men;
They stayed in bed
Till the clock struck ten.
Then up starts Robin
And looks at the sky:
"Oh, brother Richard,
The sun's very high.
You go before
With the bottle and bag,
And I will come after
On little Jack nag*."
*A nag here is a small riding horse.
According to the book, Autumn Leaves (From "A TALE FOUND IN THE REPOSITORIES OF THE ABBOTS OF THE MIDDLE AGES") by Various Authors and published in 1853, this rhyme goes back at least to the Middle Ages. Here's what's written in the book:
"Note.... by patient research we have discovered one verse of an ancient ballad, supposed to have the same tradition for its subject [as the tale]. It is preserved in a curious collection of fragmentary poetry, to be found in most private libraries, and, in its more ancient and valuable editions, in the repositories of antiquaries. It stands, in the modern copy which we possess, as follows:-
Richard and Robert were two pretty men;
Both laid abed till the clock struck ten.
Up jumps Robert, and looks at the sky;
"Oho, brother Richard, the sun's very high!
You go before, with the bottle and bag,
And I'll come behind, on little Jack nag."
You can hear this part of the text as an mp3 here (from Librivox).
Here's the version from The Only True Mother Goose Melodies (published and copyrighted in Boston in 1833 by Munroe & Francis):
Richard and Robin Were Two Pretty Men
Richard and Robin were two pretty men;
They laid abed till the clock struck ten;
Robin starts up and looks at the sky,
Oh ho! brother Richard, the sun's very high,
Do you go before with the bottle and bag,
And I'll follow after on little Jack Nag.
Here's a version from The Nursery Rhyme Book, edited by Andrew Lang and illustrated by L. Leslie Brooke (1897):
ROBIN and Richard were two pretty men;
They laid in bed till the clock struck ten;
Then up starts Robin and looks at the sky,
Oh! brother Richard, the sun's very high:
The bull's in the barn threshing the corn,
The cock's on the dunghill blowing his horn,
The cat's at the fire frying of fish,
The dog's in the pantry breaking his dish.
Photos & Illustrations
Thanks and Acknowledgements
The 1st illustration is from Mother Goose, The Original Volland Edition (1915), edited and arranged by Eulalie Osgood Grover and illustrated by Frederick Richardson (with some graphical editing by Mama Lisa). The 2nd illustration is from The Real Mother Goose (1916), illustrated by Blanche Fisher Wright. The 3rd illustration is from The Only True Mother Goose Melodies (published and copyrighted in Boston in 1833 by Munroe & Francis).