Check out our updated Community
Dan Smith
Missing rhyme puzzle: "Three Little Maids from School"
This is from "The Mikado," a comic opera by Gilbert and Sullivan. The Gilbert and Sullivan operas were produced in the late 1800s, at the height of the "Victorian era" in England. They were extremely popular and remain popular today. Part of the enjoyment is in the strange contrast between the ironic and irreverent humor of the lyrics by W. S. Gilbert, and the lovely music of Arthur Sullivan. I like Gilbert and Sullivan, but I have to admit that the jokes are obviously full of topical references, and I don't understand many of them. I have never known for sure if the book and lyrics contain sexual double-entendres, and, if so, how many of them there actually are.

"The Mikado" is a study in cultural stereotyping, with Japanese culture being treated as a joke, or at best a source of exotic and colorful costumes. Of course, the "Japanese" characters are played by English-speaking actors who don't look the slightest bit Asian.

The three words in the first stanza all rhyme with each other; the three words in the second stanza all rhyme with each other. Each dash shows where one letter must be filled in. I've shown the part of the word that rhymes.

The line about "nobody's safe" means that these young girls are irreverent and make fun of everything and everybody, including parents, teachers, and elders. Keep that in mind the next time someone says that in the old days young people were respectful!

For an extra clue, drag the mouse between the lines for a list of words. All of the answers are somewhere in the list.
Drag from here
be, bee, fee, glee, knee, lee, me, plea, see, tree, we, wee
begun, bun, done, fun, gun, none, pun, run, sun, ton, won
to here.

Three little maids from school are _e,
Pert as a school-girl well can _ e;
Filled to the brim with girlish _ _ ee,
Three little maids from school!

Everything is a source of _ un,
Nobody's safe, for we care for _ one,
Life is a joke that's just _ _ _ un,
Three little maids from school!

A YouTube video of the song:
Aug 31, 2016 12:04 AM
Comments · 10

Yes, I might choose a Flanders and Swann song for my next one. I'm thinking of "A Song of the Weather."

I can't remember the title but, from memory... definitely not for learners...

The fragrant honeysuckle spirals clockwise to the sun,

And many other creepers do the same.

But some climb anticlockwise--the bindweed does, for on--

(Or convolvulus, to give her proper name).

Placed on either side of the sill, one of each species grew,

And raced toward the window ledge above;

They spiraled to the lintel in the only way they knew,

Where they stopped--touched tendrils--smiled--and fell in love.

There follows a real tour-de-force of feminine rhymes; "bindweed" with "entwined, we'd," "luck'll" with "honeysuckle."

It ends with "deprived of the freedom from which we must fight/To veer to the left or to veer to the right."

OK, time to Google

The title is "Misalliance," and the lyrics are at

And, of course:

August 31, 2016
Laura and Sudeep are correct!
August 31, 2016

Michael (and others), do you know the satirical songs of Tom Lehrer? I mention them for two reasons. First, Lehrer's recordings from the 1950s show a definite trace of the "Harvard accent," which still existed then but was dying out. Second, he references Gilbert and Sullivan at least twice. One is in his song, "The Elements," which simply enumerates all of the chemical elements--arranged so as to rhyme and perfectly fit the music of "A Modern Major-General." 

The second is his direct parody of Gilbert and Sullivan, starting at about 3:12. Sudeep, and other learners, don't even try to understand this one. Part of the humor is that it's difficult for a native English speaker to understand the words. It's almost "double-talk." He warns you that it's meaningless. It's his impression of how Gilbert and Sullivan sound to an ear accustomed to U.S. English.

That I missed her depressed her young sister named Esther,

This mister to pester she tried.

Now her pestering sister's a festering blister,

You're best to resist her, say I.

The mister resisted, the sister persisted,

I kissed her, all loyalty slipped.

When she said I could have her, her sister's cadaver

Must surely have turned in its crypt.

Yes, yes, yes, yes!

But I love she and she loves me.

Enraptured are the both of we.

Yes I love she and she loves I

And will through all eterni-tae!

August 31, 2016

Michael, I, too, know and love (the late) Flanders and Swann. I like the song about the forbidden love between the right-handed honeysuckle and the left-handed bindweed. (I think it's too difficult for a language learner, though).

The science-fiction writer, Isaac Asimov, wrote a very good story, "Fair Exchange," about a time traveler who travels back to 1871 in order to find the lost music to the first Gilbert and Sullivan opera, Thespis, or The Gods Grown Old. Unfortunately it's still in copyright and I don't know of any place to read it online.

August 31, 2016
Thank you @Michael for The Hippopotamus song.It was really funny.First I made out  a little and then when I put my headphones on and listened carefully I got it:)
August 31, 2016
Show More
Dan Smith
Language Skills
English, Spanish
Learning Language