“Three Blind Mice”


"Three blind mice (x2), See how they run (x2); They all ran after the farmer's wife. She cut off their tails with a carving knife. Did you ever see such a sight in your life As three blind mice?"

Supplemental text

Three Blind Mice
  Complete text(s)

          *** A ***

Text as printed in Ravenscroft's Deuteromelia, 1609. Transcribed from
the photograph in Fuld. The first letter is an enlarged decorated cap,
which explains why the "H" of the first "Three" is in upper case.

The music notation is archaic, with the vertical strokes above the
note rather than beside it; the notes themselves are square (diamonds)
rather than round, and there are no measure indications.

Although "blind" is spelled "blinde," it is clearly pronounced as a
single syllable, since there is only one note in the music. Similarly
with "ferapte," "tripe," and "licke."

THree blinde Mice, three blinde Mice,
Dame Iulian, Dame Iulian,
the Miller and his merry olde wife,
she ferapte her tripe licke thou the knife.


Fuld reports this as "the earliest printed secular song which is still extremely well known" (but compare "Greensleeves"). Fuld also prints a plate of the 1609 music -- in a somewhat pre-modern notation, and with words noticeably different from those sung today.

Neither Fuld nor any other source I have seen offers an explanation for why this bit of silliness survives when so many better pieces died out. The Baring-Goulds note that there have been attempts to link it to political events -- e.g. the Farmer's Wife is Mary I Tudor, and the mice are Protestant leaders who opposed her. None of these explanations is very convincing. - RBW

Same tune

  • The (Blind/Decrepit/Myopic) Rodents (Pankake-PHCFSB, p. 208)


  1. Linscott, pp. 283-284, "Three Blind Mice" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Opie-Oxford2 348, "Three blind mice, see how they run!" (2 texts)
  3. Baring-Gould-MotherGoose #253, p. 156, "(Three blind mice, see how they run!)"
  4. Silber-FSWB, p. 413, "Three Blind Mice" (1 text)
  5. Fuld, p. 576, "Three Blind Mice"
  6. DT, (THREEBLN*)
  7. ST FSWB413A (Full)
  8. Roud #3753
  9. BI, FSWB413A


Author: Thomas Ravenscroft?
Earliest date: 1609 (Ravenscroft's Deuteromelia)
Keywords: animal disability
Found in: Britain(England) US(NE)