There Was a Little Girl


My informant in this case is my grandmother, who learned this rhyme from her mother and believes it was learned from her mother before. From what I know, that side of my family hails from Ireland which is likely where the rhyme originated.


This piece was usually used as a nursery rhyme and as a way for my informant to poke fun at her children in a humorous way. My grandma sings this tune quite often in times of relaxation when joking around is warranted. I specifically remember her performing it to myself and my cousins at family gatherings when we were growing up.

Main Piece:

“There was a little girl that had a little curl, right in the middle of her forehead. And when she was good, she was very very good, but when she was bad she was horrid!”


This nursery rhyme is an obvious reflection of the extremes of parenting. While parents often claim that bringing a life into the world is the greatest joy that can ever happen to a person, raising children can, at times, seem like a nightmare. In this rhyme, the two sides of that dichotomy are presented in a couplet in order to show that neither can exist without the other.

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