“Atisket, Atasket (I Sent a Letter to My Love)”

Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1879 (Illustrated National Nursery Songs and Games)
Keywords: playparty courting
Found in: US(MA) Britain(England(No,So)

Description

"Atisket, Atasket (or: I tisket, I tasket"), A green and yellow basket, I (wrote/sent) a letter to my love And on the way I dropped it." "A little puppy picked it up And put it in his pocket, It isn't you, it isn't you, But it is *you*."

Supplemental text

Atisket, Atasket (I Sent a Letter to My Love)
  Complete text(s)

          *** A ***

From Alice B. Gomme, The Traditional Games of England, Scotland,
and Ireland, Volume I, p. 109. From Dorsetshire.

I wrote a letter to my love;
I carried water in my glove;
And by the way I dropped it --
I dropped it, I dropped it, I dropped it, &c.

          *** B ***

Also from Gomme, p. 110. From Leicestershire.

Jack lost his supper last night,
And the night before; if he does again to-night,
He never will no more -- more -- more -- more.

I wrote a letter to my love,
And on the way I dropt it;
Some of you have picked it up,
And got it in your pocket -- pocket -- pocket -- pocket.

I have a little dog, it won't bite you --
It won't bite you -- it won't bite you --
It *will* bite you.

          *** C ***

Also from Gomme, p. 111. From Winterton or Lincoln.

Wisket-a-waskit,
A green leather basket;
I wrote a letter to my love,
And on the way I lost it;
Some of you have picked it up,
And put it in your pocket.
I have a little dog at home,
And it shan't bite you,
Nor you, nor you, nor you,
But it shall bite *you*.

          *** D ***

From W. W. Newell, Games and Songs of American Children, item
#117, p. 169, final text. From New York. Reproduced on p. 806
of B. A. Botkin, American Folklore.

Itisket, Itaskit,
A green and yellow basket.
I sent a letter to my love,
And on the way I dropped it.

Notes

There is confusion about the origin of this piece. Botkin links it to the playparty "Hunt the Squirrel." There is, however, no lyric similarity; the point of contact is that both are used with the English "drop glove" game. (For other "Drop Glove" verses, which actually mention gloves, see Baring-Gould-MotherGoose #647, p. 258, "(I've a glove in my hand).")

Fuld explicitly denies the English connection, pointing our that the earliest appearance was in Rosenwig's 1879 collection, where it was titled "I Sent a Letter to My Love." Even there, however, it is listed without an author. The Rosenwig text does not contain the "Atisket" words; these are first mentioned by Hofer in 1901.

It can be said that the two songs have cross-fertilized; see the "little dog at home" stanza, found in both "hunt the squirrel" and "Atisket."

The pop version of this song, of course, was recorded by Ella Fitzgerald. - RBW

Cross references

References

  1. Fuld-WFM, pp. 113-114, "Atisket, Atasket"
  2. cf. Botkin-AmFolklr, pp. 806, "Hunt the Squirrel (Itisket, Itasket)" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. cf. Baring-Gould-MotherGoose #630, p. 250, "(I sent a letter to m love)"
  4. ST BAF806A (Full)
  5. Roud #7896
  6. BI, BAF806A