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“Row, Row, Row Your Boat”, and a few extra verses

You’re probably familiar with the nursery rhyme “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”. There’s a version here with the usual first verse sung repeatedly, and then “in the round”. It has been viewed nearly 74 million times. The words are:

Row, row, row your boat
Gently down the stream
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily
Life is but a dream

The words were brought to mind last week, watching “A Spoonful of Sherman” at the Greenwich Theatre. The show made me think about songs written specifically for children, and the additional verses to the nursery rhyme that I used to sing when the children were small, around ten years ago. There were three other verses that we heard back then, at places like Angela’s Rhyme Time.

Row, row, row your boat
Gently down the stream
If you see a crocodile
Don’t forget to scream

And:

Row, row, row your boat
Gently down the river
If you see a polar bear
Don’t forget to shiver

And finally:

Row, row, row your boat
Gently to the shore
If you see a lion there
Don’t forget to roar

In those years before the children went to school I composed a few alternative verses, many of them involving an animal and the noise it makes. We have no record of these extra verses, only memories, so in the interests of noting them down somewhere, these are the ones that come to mind. They’re easy enough to construct. Think of an animal noise, or how you might react to it, and try to rhyme it with something related to water, or some kind vessel, and away you go. Examples: canoe and moo, bark and ark, creek and squeak. I got rather carried away with it. Here’s what we used to sing:

Row, row, row your boat
Paddle your canoe
If you see a herd of cows
Don’t forget to moo

Row, row, row your boat
Noah had an ark
If you see a puppy dog
Don’t forget to bark

Row, row, row your boat
Gently up the creek
If you see a tiny mouse
Don’t forget to squeak

Row, row, row your boat
Don’t you go too far
If you see a flock of sheep
Don’t forget to baa

Row, row, row your boat
Gently all the way
If you see a horse or two
Don’t forget to neigh

Row, row, row your boat
I can show you how
If you see a pussycat
Don’t forget to miaow

Row, row, row your boat
Gently, just like this
If you see a snake in the grass
Don’t forget to hiss

Row, row, row your boat
Gently all the way
If you see a donkey there
Don’t forget to bray

Row, row, row your boat
Quickly, please don’t dither
If you see a wiggly worm
Don’t forget to slither

Now that the children are 11 and 13 they might be ready for the more risqué version sung by Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry in an episode of “Blackadder Goes Forth”. Somehow, this happened nearly 30 years ago. I recall that my father was rather shocked by it. I won’t transcribe the lyrics but here’s a link so you can hear it for yourself (the verse is sung at 1:03).

 

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