Little Bo Peep is one of the best-known of all nursery rhymes.
There are two conflicting stories about the origins of Little Bo Peep. One says that Bo Peep may refer to the popular game peekaboo, in which a baby’s head is covered for a moment and then uncovered quickly. This has been recorded as far back as Elizabethan times; it has been mentioned in Shakespeare’s King Lear as well.
The second theory is that “to play bo peep” in the 14th century meant a punishment, specifically to stay in a pillory, a medieval torture device but it is unclear how this song about sheep could be connected to the practice of being stood on a pillory.
Little Bo Peep Lyrics
Little Bo Peep has lost her sheep
And doesn’t know where to find them.
Leave them alone, and they’ll come home,
Bringing their tails behind them.
Little Bo peep fell fast asleep
And dreamt she heard them bleating;
But when she awoke, she found it a joke,
For they were still a-fleeting.
Then up she took her little crook,
Determined her to find them;
She found them indeed, but it made her heart bleed,
For they’d left their tales behind them.
It happened one day, as Bo peep did stray
Into a meadow hard by,
There she espied their tales side by side,
All hung on a tree to dry.
She heaved a sigh and wiped her eye,
And over the hillocks went rambling,
And tried what she could, as a sheperdess should,
To tack each again to its lambkin.