Jul 30, 2008

Dr. Fell

I do not like thee, Dr. Fell
The reason why I cannot tell
But this I know, and know full well
I do not like thee, Dr. Fell
Nursery Rhyme

Some things in life just stick with you. I'll always remember the starting lineups for Pittsburgh Pirates and the Baltimore Orioles in the 1979 World Series. I'm a Yankee fan down to the core, but for some reason I remember this World Series just as well as any series the Yanks participated in.

Another thing I will always remember is the nursery rhyme above. I must have seen it in an illustrated book of Mother Goose nursery rhymes when I was a kid, and it stuck. There was such menace to the rhyme, I thought. I pictured a villainous doctor from olden tymes. Someone with a secret agenda. Something sinister.

I finally looked it up and the origin behind the rhyme is more comedic than sinister. A student at Oxford University back in 1680, Tom Brown was on the verge of being expelled. He was tasked by the Dean of the school, a Dr. John Fell*, to translate the Latin epigram "Non amo te, Sabidi, nec possum dicere quare; Hoc tantum posso dicere, non amo te."

His translation was "I don't like you, Sabidius, and I can't say why; all I can say is I don't like you." He then quickly turned it on it's ear and came up with the Dr. Fell rhyme.

Cool story, but I liked it better when it was dangerous!

*For all you Thomas Harris fans out there. I'm not sure if this is why he used this pseudonym, but Dr. Fell was Hannibal Lecter's secret Italian hideout name in "Hannibal". I like to believe that the rhyme is why Harris used it.


badgerdaddy said...

There's a catchy but irritating song by the same name by some Irish lady. Go find it.

Vodka Mom said...

now i'll be rhyming about that damn dr. fell all day long....

great post.

Verdant Earl said...

badger - Yeah, right. Go find an irritating song. No thanks! ;)

Vodka Mom - Heya! And don't blame me. Blame Dr. Fell. :)

Slyde said...

i must say that ive never heard that rhyme, but the first thing i thought of when i saw it was that it was hannibal's name while in italy..

Verdant Earl said...

Slyde - and the rhyme is the first thing I thought of when I read the book.

Ookami Snow said...

Oh it is still dangerous. Dangerous like a goose.

Verdant Earl said...

Ookami - should that be "silly" as a goose? :)

Anonymous said...

Great post - I like learning stuff like this. It's interesting info, especially the footnote. Yikes. Oh, and by the way, I've tagged you for a meme here:
Hope you can participate.

Verdant Earl said...

Teeni - Thanks! I think this is more the direction that this blog is going to turn to in the future. As for the meme...maybe. ;)