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Some scholars believe that Who Killed Cock Robin? is derived from the early Norse myth about the death of Balder, the god of summer sunlight and the incarnation of the life principle, who was slain by Hoder at Loki's instigation.

Robin Singing


Others believe it is related to Robin Hood and the many offers of help received after his death. However, there is no direct indication in the poem to support this claim apart from the similarity of the name. In some Robin Hood tales, Robin Hood is killed by a nun who betrays the outlaw and drains his blood.

The story might also have been connected to the mysterious murder of William Rufus, King of England, and unpopular son of the Conqueror, found dead in the New Forest with an arrow piercing his lung.

Its first appearance in a nursery book was in Tommy Thumb's Pretty Song Book in c1744, although only the first four verses were printed. After c1770 the entire poem was being printed in numerous editions as chapbooks (pocket sized booklets) and toy books.

"Who killed Cock Robin?" "I," said the Sparrow,
"With my bow and arrow, I killed Cock Robin."
"Who saw him die?" "I," said the Fly,
"With my little eye, I saw him die."
"Who caught his blood?" "I," said the Fish,
"With my little dish, I caught his blood."
"Who'll make the shroud?" "I," said the Beetle,
"With my thread and needle, I'll make the shroud."
"Who'll dig his grave?" "I," said the Owl,
"With my pick and shovel, I'll dig his grave."
"Who'll be the parson?" "I," said the Rook,
"With my little book, I'll be the parson."
"Who'll be the clerk?" "I," said the Lark,
"If it's not in the dark, I'll be the clerk."
"Who'll carry the link?" "I," said the Linnet,
"I'll fetch it in a minute, I'll carry the link."
"Who'll be chief mourner?" "I," said the Dove,
"I mourn for my love, I'll be chief mourner."
"Who'll carry the coffin?" "I," said the Kite,
"If it's not through the night, I'll carry the coffin."
"Who'll bear the pall? "We," said the Wren,
"Both the cock and the hen, we'll bear the pall."
"Who'll sing a psalm?" "I," said the Thrush,
"As she sat on a bush, I'll sing a psalm."
"Who'll toll the bell?" "I," said the bull,
"Because I can pull, I'll toll the bell."
All the birds of the air fell a-sighing and a-sobbing,
When they heard the bell toll for poor Cock Robin.


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