Tag Archives: lullaby

Anti-Lullaby to Children

“Nobody likes me, everybody hates me, guess I’ll eat some worms. Short fat skinny ones, itty-bitty little ones, guess I’ll eat some worms.”

Context: The song was originally preformed by the mother of the collector when her child said that she was having difficulties making friends with children during elementary school. The collection is taken from a later date when asked to recite the song.

Informant Analysis Below:

The informant had grown up switching many schools, about 11, during her time from elementary through high school. She noted that because of moving around so much she often had difficulty making strong friendships. This song seemed to encapsulate the self-pity she once had as a child, and how she learned to become less emotional about such things.

Informant: “I honestly don’t remember when I first heard it, but I know it was definitely while I was still a child. It’s possible my mom also sang that to me too.”

Collector: “Do you have any idea of what it means?”

Informant: “I think it is saying, like, who cares if you feel unliked. Be stronger than that. The whole eating worms thing, to me, is saying that if you are gonna whine about not having friends, might as well eat worms while you are at it because the world does not care.”

Collector Analysis: Lullabies in themselves are supposed to be calming and reassuring to a child. This lullaby is rather odd because it does no such task. It seems to point out any amount of self-pity one may have for themselves and make light of it. In doing so, it can be seen as “tough love” and harsh in many ways. The concept of not being liked is a very common fear, not just for children, but for adults too. Perhaps when told to a child it not only is meant to teach children to “toughen up”, but also remind the adult to do the same. I believe this piece also has a lot to do with the drives in American culture of being self-sufficient. Starting at a young age, it would make sense to instill a sense of individualism by not caring what others think onto a child.

Chinese Poem: Bai ri yi shan jing

  1. The main piece: Chinese Poem

Original Script:

白日依山尽, 黄河入海流。

欲穷千里目, 更上一层楼。


Bai ri yi shan jing

Huang he ru hai liu

Yu qiong qian li mu

Geng shang yi ceng lou

  1. Background information about the performance from the informant: why do they know or like this piece? Where/who did they learn it from? What does it mean to them? Context of the performance?

“I learned this poem in Chinese school many, many years ago. I don’t even really know what it means. I mean, I kind of know. Um, I can translate it word for word. The sun goes up in the morning, and the Yellow River, which is actually the name of the river—something about the river flowing. And then…hmm…I’m not really sure what that last part means.

“It has something to do with thinking and observing nature. That’s what most songs and poems are about. There are a lot of songs about Mao too. And communist ideals in general, like being a good citizen, working hard, um. And like waking up in the morning and saluting.”

  1. Finally, your thoughts about the piece

The meaning of this poem elucidates the concepts that are considered vital and peaceful in Chinese society. It incorporates one of the two main rivers in China into a peaceful-sounding children’s poem about nature—this indoctrinates nationalistic ideas into children as early as possible, and gives the message that the most beautiful and serene place is the nation itself. The fact that most poems that are not about nature are about Mao Zedong or communist ideals shows just how much vernacular poems and children’s lessons are used to build nationalistic ideals from the very start of a person’s life.

  1. Informant Details

The informant is an 18-year old Chinese-American female. While she grew up in the southern California area, she spent more time with her grandparents than her parents growing up, and felt that learning their Chinese traditions and language was the main way she bonded with them, while her younger sister never had that experience because her parents were out of school by then.

For another version of this poem, see http://anakoinosis.com/readingattic/?p=305.

Ukranian Lullaby

Main Piece: Ukrainian Lullaby

Ніч яка місячна, зоряна, ясная! / Видно, хоч голки збирай. / Вийди, коханая, працею зморена, / Хоч на хвилиночку в гай.
Сядем укупочці тут під калиною – / І над панами я пан! / Глянь, моя рибонько, – срібною хвилею / Стелиться полем туман.
Гай чарівний, ніби променем всипаний, / Чи загадався, чи спить: / Ген на стрункій та високій осичині / Листя пестливо тремтить.

Небо незміряне всипане зорями, / Що то за Божа краса! / Перлами ясними попід тополями / Грає краплиста роса.

Ти не лякайся, що ніженьки босії / Вмочиш в холодну росу: / Я тебе, вірная, аж до хатиноньки / Сам на руках піднесу.
Ти не лякайся, що змерзнеш, лебедонько, / Тепло – ні вітру, ні хмар… / Я пригорну тебе до свого серденька, / А воно палке, як жар.


Nich yaka misyachna, zoryana, yasnaya! / Vydno, khoch holky zbyray. / Vyydy, kokhanaya, pratseyu zmorena, / Khoch na khvylynochku v hay.
Syadem ukupochtsi tut pid kalynoyu – / I nad panamy ya pan! / Hlyanʹ, moya rybonʹko, – sribnoyu khvyleyu / Stelytʹsya polem tuman.
Hay charivnyy, niby promenem vsypanyy, / Chy zahadavsya, chy spytʹ: / Hen na strunkiy ta vysokiy osychyni / Lystya pestlyvo tremtytʹ.
Nebo nezmiryane vsypane zoryamy, / Shcho to za Bozha krasa! / Perlamy yasnymy popid topolyamy / Hraye kraplysta rosa.
Ty ne lyakaysya, shcho nizhenʹky bosiyi / Vmochysh v kholodnu rosu: / YA tebe, virnaya, azh do khatynonʹky / Sam na rukakh pidnesu.
Ty ne lyakaysya, shcho zmerznesh, lebedonʹko, / Teplo – ni vitru, ni khmar… / YA pryhornu tebe do svoho serdenʹka, / A vono palke, yak zhar.


Oh night which is moonlight, starlit, clear! / So visible, you can collect needles. / Come out, my exhausted love, / For a minute into the garden.

Let’s sit together here under this rose bush / I am their master / Look my darling, a silver wave / The fog rolls onto the field.

So magical, as if powdered by rays / Or lost in thought, asleep / The wind above the thin and tall oak tree / the leaves gently shakes.

The sky is innumerably sprinkled with stars, / What Godly beauty! / Visible under the poplars / plays the mottled dew.

Don’t be afraid that your bare legs / will become wet from the cold dew; / I, my loyal, all the way to the house / in my arms will carry.

Don’t be afraid that you will freeze, my dear, / It is warm- not a breeze, not a cloud… / I will hold you close to my heart / It is hot, like a fever.


Background Information:

  • Why does informant know this piece?

Her mother sang it to her when she was a baby / small child.

  • Where did they learn this piece?

The Soviet Union, Kiev, Ukraine.

  • What does it mean to them?

It is a sweet, calming song that reminds her of her home and culture.



  • Where?

Usually sung in a dark bedroom.

  • When?

This song is often sung night.

  • Why?

It is meant to help a child fall asleep.


Personal Thoughts:

My mother also sang me this song, as did my grandmother. It is a very calming, haunting song that calls back to old Ukraine before the Soviet Union. Often times people skip different couplets of the song depending on if they like them or not. This song also appears in a few Soviet era films, such as “В бой идут одни старики” which can be translated as “Only Old Men Go To War”.

To hear this song in the film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ONsgbw_VLms

Bykov, Leonid, director. Only Old Men Are Going to Battle. Dovzhenko Film Studios, 1974.


Spanish Lullaby

Background Information: Shawn Barnes is a Junior at college, and his family is Mexican on his mother’s side. I interviewed him about a Spanish lullaby that he remembers his mother singing to him at night as a child.

Original (Spanish):

“A la roro niño

A lo roro ya

Duérmete mi niño

Duérmete mi amor.

Este niño lindo

Que nació de mañana,

Quiere que lo lleven

A pasear en carcacha.

Este niño lindo

Que nació de día

Quiere que lo lleven

A la dulcería

Este niño

Que nació de noche

Quiere que lo lleven

A pasear en coche.

Este niño lindo

Se quiere dormir,

Y el pícaro sueño

No quiere venir.

Este niño lindo

Que nació de noche

Quiere que lo lleven

A pasear en coche.”


“Lullaby baby

Lullaby now.

Sleep my baby,

Sleep my love.

This pretty baby

Who was born in the morning,

Wants to be taken

For a jalopy ride.

This sweet baby

Who was born during the day,

Wants to be taken

To the candy shop.

This pretty baby

Who was born at night,

Wants to be taken

For a stroller ride.

This pretty baby

Wants to sleep

But the naughty sleep

Doesn’t want to come.

This pretty baby

Who was born at night,

Wants to be taken

For a stroller ride.

Shawn: “So, it’s a way to like, put a child to sleep and then say all these good things about them. And then oftentimes my mom would like to rush it a little bit, because I’d go like, ‘Mom can you sing “La Roro”, and so she’d just like rush through one verse and say ‘se acabó’, or like “it’s over, go to sleep.” But like, I still remember her tucking me in and it was sort of a cute thing.”

Thoughts: Lullabies are interesting, and I have found that they often stick in people’s memories, even if it is in a vague form, perhaps because they are repetitive and musical. This lullaby seems to be meant for encouraging a child to go to sleep, while also showing the child love and talking about sweet and pleasant things. Perhaps this is an attempt to ensure pleasant dreams for the child as well.

Persian Lullaby

Informant Description/ Context of performance: This is a lullaby that was sung to my friend every night when she was a child. Her mom and dad sang it to her and her little sister; her grandma sang it to her mother.



Gonjeeshkakeh ashi mashee

Labebooyeh mah nashee

Baroon meyad tam meeshee

Barf meeyad gooleh meeshee

Meeyoftee too hoseh nagashee


Daret meeyareh

Havash bashee

Booset mekoneh va looset meekoneh, va paret meedeh ashi mashee



Little sparrow, little sparrow

Don’t land on my rooftop edge

It’s going to rain and you’ll get wet

It’s going to snow and you’ll turn into a snow ball

And you’ll slip into the painted piscine


The groundskeeper will pull you out

The doctor will cuddle you

The mediator will kiss you and spoil you and let you FLY!


Conclusion (written by Interviewer):

I found this lullaby very interesting and different from most other lullabies. For example, most well-known lullabies like “Go to Sleep Little Baby” have lyrics about going to sleep or falling asleep. This lullaby is very soothing and light in its tone and performance; however, its literal translation has nothing to do with falling asleep. The song is about comforting the listener, which begs the question – did it actually originate with the intention of being a lullaby? It seems like it could be a child’s song, not necessarily a lullaby.

Dodo, L’Enfant Do


My informant is a twenty-one year old student at USC; she’s studying neuroscience with an eye towards medical school. Her father is Laotian and French and her mother is French.


“Dodo, l’enfant do

L’enfant dormira bien vite

Dodo, l’enfant do

L’enfant dormira bientôt

Une poule blanche

Est là dans la grange

Qui va faire un petit coco

Pour l’enfant qui va fair dodo

Dodo, l’enfant do

L’enfant dormira bien vite

Dodo, l’enfant do

L’enfant dormira bientôt

Tout le monde est sage

Dans le voisinage

Il est l’heure d’aller dormir

Le sommeil va bientôt venir.

My mom used to sing it to me. I think hers did too.”

ENGLISH: Sleep, baby, sleep/the baby falls asleep/sleep, baby, sleep/the baby will sleep soon; a white chicken/is in the barn/making a little egg/for the baby who goes to sleep; Sleep, baby, sleep/the baby falls asleep/sleep, baby, sleep/the baby will sleep soon; everyone is calm/all around/it’s time to sleep/sleep is coming soon.


This is an adorable piece of folklore, and one that has understandably withstood the tests of time. The lyrics and tune are quite simple; simple enough that, years and years later, people can still remember the song as it was sung to them and pass it on to their children.

The Trollmom’s Lullaby

Informant was a 20 year old female who was born in Sweden and currently lives in the United States. She came to visit me.


När trollmor har lagt sina elva små troll

och bundit dom fast i svansen,

då sjunger hon sakta för elva små trollen

de vackraste ord hon känner:

Ho aj aj aj aj buff,

ho aj aj aj aj buff,

ho aj aj aj aj buff buff!

Ho aj aj aj aj buff.

Informant: There’s a song that my mom would always sing to me in Swedish about trolls. It’s called Trollmors Vaggivisa, which literally translates into The Trollmom’s Lullaby. It’s about how this trollmom puts her 11 kids to bed, and the kids are trolls obviously, and how she sings a song to them after, and then it literally says when troll mom puts her 11 small trolls to bed and ties up their tails.

Collector: Wait, do trolls have tails?

Informant: These trolls do. And then the last part of the song says that she sings slowly to the 11 small trolls the prettiest words she knows. And then it goes like “ho ai ai ai ai buff ho ai ai ai ai buff ho ai ai ai ai buff buff ho ai ai ai ai buff.”

Collector: What does that mean?

Informant: It doesn’t mean anything. It’s giberish. It’s just supposed to be the prettiest words that the mom knows. And my mom used to sing this to me when I was a kid, and she has always sung it to us even when we were older. When I was in France and missing Sweden, she would always sing that to calm us down and put us to sleep, actually. It reminded me of home.

Collector: Why do you liked this song?

Informant: I think there was always something comforting about my mom singing it to me. It was calming and it made me feel like I was back home in Sweden.

I found this song particularly funny, because there isn’t really any meaning to it at all. I think that’s what makes this song particularly endearing, because it’s a cute little bedtime story about trolls. Even though it’s a song about trolls, it has significant meaning for my friend, as it connects her to her Swedish culture. Being international myself, I know how hard it can be to be away from home, and how important it is to have things that can connect you back to your culture.

You Are My Sunshine-Lullaby

“And she used to sing all the time, around the house, and I did too, and she um listened to records, as I was a child, and I grew up with a lot of famous like Glenn Miller, and all that, and that kind of music, and so I have always loved music, and I have always been very thankful that God put the um the desire for music and the appreciation for music in our hearts, because how does that happen, you know? And so I think that if you have a love of music, you got that somewhere, you know it doesn’t just happen, so I suspect a person growing up in a home, without music, wont have the same level of appreciation of music that somebody like me has, I mean.

Do you have any songs that come to mind when you think of her?

Oh well she used to sing “You are my sunshine”


“You are my sunshine, my only sunshine,

you make me happy, when skies are grey.

You never know dear, how much I love you.

So please don’t take my sunshine away.”


It makes me cry. You know it don’t you?

She used to sing that and all kinds of songs, and she sang in the Church when she was young in Wisconsin. She sang at a Protestant Church, you know the Catholic Church was too far away, you know they had to walk in the snow and all that. But she loved all popular songs. Uh and when she hears classical music, she would say: “Can’t they play something that has a melody, that’s just noise!” She was a character.”


Informant: the informant was born in Chicago, and attended high school and college there, graduating with a degree in English. After marrying and having one child, she moved to Dallas, Texas where she raised three children with her husband. She is of Irish descent, her father being from Ireland, and her mother was born in Wisconsin after her parents moved from Ireland, and her heritage and tradition are very important to her. She is a grandmother of five children.



In this piece, the informant is speaking about her mother, who was born in a family of Irish immigrants who had moved to Wisconsin. Her mother was an Irish Catholic, and so is the informant. The informant was speaking about how she gained her appreciation of music from her mother, and she would learn songs from listening to her mother sing around the house. One of those songs was “You are my sunshine.” This song has a special significance because the tune and the lyrics are very moving to the informant. The informant in turn passed down this song to her children, who sing it to their children.

The reasons that this song makes the informant cry and has special significance could be because of the relationship that she had with her mother, who taught her the song, as well as the poignancy of the lyrics. When associating a simple song like this with a loved one, it brings to mind all of the love that is associated with that person. Therefore, when singing the song and saying “please don’t take my sunshine away,” the simple lyrics are moving in that the represent losing the love that is associated with the singer of that song, who is often a loved one.

This song was often sung by the mother to her daughter as a sort of lullaby, which has a special significance as well. That is to say that the lullaby is meant to be a comforting tune for the child. When a mother sings this to a child she is singing about her love for her child. Therefore, when the informant was recalling this song, she could have been thinking about her mother, who had passed away several years ago, bringing back comforting memories of her. This song demonstrates how such a simple tune, and simple lyrics may have such profound emotional ties that lead to the passing down of this song as a lullaby from mothers to their children.

In addition, the comment that the informant’s mother made about classical music lacking a melody and just being “noise,” is representative of the separation of folk music and classical music. While classical music was taught in a strict manner through the aristocracy and apart from the people, folk music flourished with the rest of the population and was picked up by other people. It is clear that the informant’s mother had an appreciation for this folk music, while maintaining distaste for classical music. This could also be correlated with her Irish descent, as the Irish have a strong tradition of folk music.

The Three Bears Lullaby

The informant in this piece is my grandmother on my father’s side, Ruth, a retired teacher born in 1926 in Arkansas.

In this piece, she talks about a lullaby she used to sing to my father and aunt. She could not remember much of the lullaby, but I found the lullaby she was talking about. When I read her the following lyrics, she said they were pretty close to what she can remember.

“Once upon a time in a neat little cottage there lived three bears

One was a daddy bear and one was a mama bear and one was a wee bear

While they were out a-walking, through the deep woods a-stalking came a little girl with blonde hair

Her name was Goldilocks and upon the door she knocks but no one was there

So she walked right in and had herself a time coz she didn’t care

Then she got sleepy, went upstairs to bed, when…

Home, home, home came the three bears!

Someone’s been eating my porridge said the daddy bear,

Someone’s been eating my porridge said the mama bear,

Hey Ba-ba Re-bear said the little wee bear someone has broken my chair!
Someone’s been sitting in my chair said the daddy bear,

Someone’s been sitting in my chair said the mama bear,

Hey Ba-ba Re-bear said the little wee bear someone has broken my chair!

Just then Goldilocks woke up, broke up the party and beat it out of there
Bye-bye! Bye! Bye! said the daddy bear

Goodbye, Bye said the mama bear

Hey Ba-ba Re-bear said the little wee bear

So ends the story of the three bears!”

N: When Cathy and Mike were very young I would read to them or tell bedtime stories until I would get so sleepy I couldn’t read any more. I would then start to sing a little song that went like this ‘ Once upon a time there were three bears, A Papa Bear, A Mama Bear and a Wee Bear’. They would cry out “No, don’t sing the song”. I never knew if they didn’t like my singing or they didn’t want the stories to end.

M: Do you remember any of the song?

N: Um… no. No more than what I just sang to you.

M: Do you remember where you learned it?

N: I think I had learned it from my mother. She would sing it to me when I was little.

M: It’s funny. I never knew there was a song for Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

I really like my grandmother’s response to why my dad and aunt had such a bad reaction to the song. Personally, I think it was because they knew after the song, the stories would end. I think people tell lullabies they heard as children because it reminds them of when they were little, and they want to have that in common with their children. When I asked my dad about it, however, he said he barely remembers the lullaby. It interesting what some people hold very important, and others forget about.

For other versions of this lullaby, visit http://dragon.sleepdeprived.ca/songbook/songs4/S4_36.htm

A Mom’s Lullaby


Don’t you cry,

Go to sleep my little Meowser,


Close your eyes,

And start to yawn,

Sweet dreams until the dawn



Don’t you cry,

Go to sleep my little Matt



Don’t you cry,

Go to sleep my little Meow.”


This is a lullaby that my mom used to sing for me when I was a child. It definitely borrows the tune and theme from Brahm’s lullaby, but I couldn’t find that version of the lyrics anywhere. Additionally, my mom inserted my name (Matt) and my nicknames (Meowser and Meow) into the song, something her mother did for her. My mother said that it reminded her of the stressful but adorable task of getting me to bed at night, but she also has a very loving memory of it. For me, the song evokes strong emotion because my mom is the person that I’m closest to in my family, and i connect that song with my mother and with my childhood.