Learn a Rhyme

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One, Two Buckle My Shoe

One, two, buckle my shoe,
Three, four, knock on the door,
Five, six, pick up sticks,
Seven, eight, lay them straight,
Nine, ten, a big fat hen,
Eleven, twelve, dig and delve,
Thirteen, fourteen, maids a-courting,
Fifteen, sixteen, maids in the kitchen,
Seventeen, eighteen, maids a-waiting,
Nineteen, twenty, my plate's empty.

This rhyme was first published in 1805

This rhyme which is traditionally used to teach children to count up to twenty also tells the story of a lacemaker's day. The lace-maker puts on his shoes then leaves for work. He knocks on the door of the workshop then sits down and straightens the lace-making pins ready to make lace. A big fat hen is a type of pillow used to rest the lacework on. The references to gardening, maids, and ladies in waiting either refers to the station of the lacemaker or more likely that of his customers.