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My excellent friend Ivy has a blog called Stone Circle about fairy tales and folklore and such.  After visiting there a few times (which you should do too) I got to thinking about the story of the Babes in the Wood.

My grandfather was the smartest man I ever knew.  He never smoked, drank or cursed, but he had a very mischevious (and dare I say deadpan) sense of humor.  He also knew all kinds of cool things, he could recite The Little Man Who Wasn’t There or sing Silent Night in German.  Every now and then when he wanted to needle my mother (his daughter), he would start talking about the Babes in the Wood.  “Poor babes in the wood,” he’d say.

My mother, who always had an extremely histrionic nature, would flip out.

“Oh no!  Not Babes in the Wood!” she’d cry.  “Not that story!  That horrible, horrible story!  Not Babes in the Wood!”  This would usually be accompanied by a lot of hand wringing and arm waving.

One night when I was about 14 or 15 we were at the dinner table and Babes in the Wood came up again.  Somehow it always came up at the dinner table.  Mom started ranting and raving as usual, but I decided to speak up.

“What is it with this Babes in the Wood stuff anyway?”  I asked.  “My whole stinking life you two have been going on about the Babes in the Wood and never once have I heard the story.  I want to hear it.”

My father and brother realized that they never heard the story either, so they agreed with me.  Mom was having none of it.

“If you’re going to tell that horrible story, I’m leaving!” she said.  With that she stood up, put her wrist to her forehead and left the room.  Oddly enough, a few other family members left too, but with not as much drama.

So I finally heard the story.  Here it is:

My dear do you know,

How a long time ago,

Two poor little children,

Whose names I don’t know,

Were stolen away

On a fine summers day,

And left in a wood,

As I’ve heard people say,

Poor babes in the wood! poor babes in the wood!

Oh! don’t you remember the babes in the wood?

And when it was night,

So sad was their plight,

The sun it went down,

And the moon gave no light!

They sobbed and they sighed,

And they bitterly cried,

And the poor little things,

They lay down and died.

Poor babes in the wood! poor babes in the wood!

Oh! don’t you remember the babes in the wood?

And when they were dead,

The robins so red,

Brought strawberry leaves,

And over them spread;

And all the day long,

The branches among,

They mournfully whistled,

And this was their song;

Poor babes in the wood! poor babes in the wood!

Oh! don’t you remember the babes in the wood? 

Pretty creepy, huh?  I miss the shit out of my grandfather.

So, if you ever find yourself in the same room with my mother and you want to get rid of her in a hurry, now you have the proper tools.  Who knows, maybe it’ll work on your mother too.

(Psst!  Ivy!  If you have any insights on the origins of this story that you’d like to share with us, please do.)

Author’s note:  If you want to read a much funnier story about another babe in the wood click here.



  1. Okay, the story about the babes in the woods was bad, but that link was god-awful.

    The last time I saw my son he brought up something my mother-in-law used to tell him when he was little. “If you don’t behave, I’m going to sell you to the gypsies!” I don’t know if I should be annoyed that she said that to impressionable little kids, or not (she’s deceased, what good would it do?).

  2. Thanks for recommending Stone Circle!

    What an odd compilation of stories this could be a part of – the packing ’em up and sending ’em out collection. Hit the road, kid. Or eat your vegetables. Up to you.

  3. Go for it Ivy! I’d love to see that one.

  4. Yeesh! Creepy stuff. Grandparents always seem to have the best ’round-the-campfire stories, don’t they?

  5. There’s a Stephen King book in that thing, I swear there is… The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon kicked up a notch…

    I like my mom–is it okay if I just use it on yours?

  6. You had a neat Grandpa, Wanda. I never grew up with my grandparents in the vicinity. 😦

    Fairy tales are a nasty business, really. But I love them anyway. This one was freaky, tho.

    I’m scared to hit that link, Wanda…

    * Ivy: I like your blog, I was there last week… oh, I should just go leave this as a comment on your blog…*


  7. WTF just happened? I left a comment and the world just changed! Oh, it’s the layout… 🙂

    ** Um that Orlando Bloom thing was still in my comment form. That was a damn accident… just wanted to clear that up.

  8. Sorry, I’m experimenting with new themes.

  9. Creepy!

    Littlefluffycat is right. It’s called “The Green Mile”.

  10. BTW Love your new look.

  11. Oh ha ha. The Laura/Legolas story…

  12. Is dat your arse again?!

  13. I like fairytales. I liked this one. The fact that your grandfather told it and so many others is awesome. I think it’d be a pretty neat thing to remember about your grandfather.

  14. My grandmother used to recite this to me. I didn’t find it creepy … I just figured that’s how things go sometimes. I was an oddly resigned child.

  15. My grandfather would tell us this story, and several others he made up, just to get rid of us. He would tell us he hated children, and they should be be neither seen, nor heard.

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