Sing a song of sixpence

The first line of this nursery rhyme is quoted in Beaumont and Fletcher's Bonduca, Act v, sc. 2. It is probable also that Sir Toby alludes to this song in Twelfth Night, Act ii, sc. 2, when he says, "Come on; there is sixpence for you; let's have a song." In Epulario, or the Italian banquet, 1589, is a receipt "to make pies so that the birds may be alive in them and flie out when it is cut up," a mere device, live birds being introduced after the pie is made. This may be the original subject of the following song.

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Sing a song of sixpence,
A bag full of rye;
Four and twenty blackbirds
Baked in a pie;

When the pie was open'd,
The birds began to sing;
Was not that a dainty dish,
To set before the king?

The king was in his counting-house
Counting out his money;
The queen was in the parlour
Eating bread and honey;

The maid was in the garden
Hanging out the clothes,
There came a little blackbird,
And snapt off her nose.

Jenny was so mad,
She didn't know what to do;
She put her finger in her ear,
And crackt it right in two.

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