(Being an account of the Peculiar Events leading up to the Monstrous and Notorious Tragedy of the Four and Twenty Blackbirds who were martyred by being baked into a pie; and of the Warning previously issued to all Fowl within the Royal Earshot, which these aforementioned Blackbirds roundly ignored, to their own Detriment and Ultimate Demise; written by one, Witness to the Aforesaid Events.)
Go quietly, quietly! Quell every sound,
You geese in the air and you quails on the ground!
You ducks with your querulous ducklings in tow,
You may go as you like; only quietly go.
No quacking; no quarreling; quash every cry;
Not a chirp from you blackbirds who quarter the sky!
The queen is asleep:
If you cease not to peep
She’ll awake and demand you be baked in a pie!
… and I think we all know what happened next. Heed, children, this cautionary tale. (Which is, by the way, should you not have noticed, Q in the Alphabet, Schmalphabet series.)
Image: Illustration for Four and Twenty Blackbirds, committed by an
Herewith, the delightful title of the original book in full:
Mother Goose’s Melodies.
The only Pure Edition.
Containing All that have ever come to light of her Memorable Writings, together with those which have been discovered among the mss. of Herculaneum. Likewise every one recently found in the same stone box which hold the golden plates of the Book of Mormon. The whole Compared, revised, and sanctioned, by one of The Annotators of the Goose family.
W?hat a treasure of an arcane book! How did you ever find it
Isn’t it wonderful? If I recall correctly, I found the picture of the Queen and her pie on Wikimedia (I may or may not have got there through Google Image Search or Wikipedia), where there was a link to the book on Internet Archive. Then of course I started reading the book, and the colophon cracked me up, and… voila!