OLD LADY WHO SWALLOWED A FLY

Posted on Posted in Breedloves's Folk Songs
  • OLD LADY WHO SWALLOWED A FLY
    “There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly” (“There Was an Old Woman Who
    Swallowed a Fly”, “I Know an Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly”) is a children’s song
    with a cumulative structure. The song was written by Alan Mills, the lyrics were by Rose
    Bonne [1] Probably the best-known version of the song was released on Brunswick
    Records in 1953 by Burl Ives. The song tells the story of an old woman who swallowed
    increasingly large animals, each to catch the previously swallowed animal. There are
    many variations of phrasing in the lyrics, especially for the description of swallowing
    each animal.
    There was an old woman who swallowed a fly,
    I don’t know why she swallowed a fly,
    Perhaps she’ll die.
    There was an old woman who swallowed a spider,
    That wriggled and jiggled and tickled inside her,
    She swallowed the spider to catch the fly,
    I don’t know why she swallowed the fly,
    Perhaps she’ll die.
    There was an old woman who swallowed a bird,
    How absurd! to swallow a bird,
    She swallowed the bird to catch the spider,
    That wriggled and jiggled and tickled inside her,
    She swallowed the spider to catch the fly,
    I don’t know why she swallowed the fly,
    Perhaps she’ll die.
    There was an old woman who swallowed a cat,
    Imagine that! to swallow a cat,
    She swallowed the cat to catch the bird,
    She swallowed the bird to catch the spider,
    That wriggled and jiggled and tickled inside her,
    She swallowed the spider to catch the fly,
    I don’t know why she swallowed the fly,
    Perhaps she’ll die.
    There was an old woman who swallowed a dog,
    What a hog! to swallow a dog,
    She swallowed the dog to catch the cat,
    She swallowed the cat to catch the bird,
    She swallowed the bird to catch the spider,
    That wriggled and jiggled and tickled inside her,
    She swallowed the spider to catch the fly,
    I don’t know why she swallowed the fly,
    Perhaps she’ll die.
    There was an old woman who swallowed a goat,
    Just opened her throat! to swallow a goat,
     She swallowed the goat to catch the dog,
    She swallowed the dog to catch the cat,
    She swallowed the cat to catch the bird,
    She swallowed the bird to catch the spider,
    That wriggled and jiggled and tickled inside her,
    She swallowed the spider to catch the fly,
    I don’t know why she swallowed the fly,
    Perhaps she’ll die.
    There was an old woman who swallowed a cow,
    I don’t know how she swallowed a cow!
    She swallowed the cow to catch the goat,
    She swallowed the goat to catch the dog,
    She swallowed the dog to catch the cat,
    She swallowed the cat to catch the bird,
    She swallowed the bird to catch the spider,
    That wriggled and jiggled and tickled inside her,
    She swallowed the spider to catch the fly,
    I don’t know why she swallowed the fly,
    Perhaps she’ll die.
    There was an old woman who swallowed a horse,
    She’s dead—of course!