Humpty-Dumpty

If you were raised in an Anglophone country and are of a certain age, chances are you became familiar with the Humpty-Dumpty nursery rhyme while growing up. As I grew up in Germany for the first two decades of my life I didn’t. When and where I first heard the poem I don’t recall, and I knew very little about it until I did a little reading in preparation for this post.

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall;

All the king’s horses and all the king’s men

Couldn’t put Humpty together again.

According to several online sources, the quatrain started out as a riddle, to which the answer might or might not have been egg. It was only after Lewis Carroll’s 1871 Through the Looking Glass (the sequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland) that Humpty Dumpty became associated with an anthropomorphic egg. The nursery rhyme’s long and illustrious career includes being set to music, and countless online versions of the song exist, available to you at your leisure.

Colorado Springs’ civic, cultural, and economic interests are the concern of the Downtown Partnership. Its charitable nonprofit arm, Downtown Ventures, has been behind the popular annual Art on the Streets project which “celebrates the power of art in public places.” Each year since 1998, it has selected submissions from artists and displayed them downtown for 12 months.

A number of the exhibits have become permanent installations after the course of the year when purchased by an individual or organization. Such was the case with the 2003 submission, Hump D, fashioned by Minneapolis artist Kimber Fiebiger. Seated on a low wall adjacent to the Pikes Peak Center for the Performing Arts, the bronze was so popular that local businesses have since commissioned similar designs and placed them in various locations throughout the core of our city. It was only this summer that I happened across a few of them, and I can relate why new ones keep appearing in different places. One never tires of looking at these jovial, happy creations without feeling jovial and happy oneself.

To enlarge a photo, click on it. To read its caption, hover the cursor over it.

PS: Some, but not all of the titles I found on the artist’s webpage. Incidentally, I also stumbled across a creation entitled “Trumpty-Dumpty.” While it represents the exact opposite of happy and jovial, it is very timely.

42 thoughts on “Humpty-Dumpty

  1. The German name of the artist you mentioned sent me searching for its origin. I found this about Fiebig (and therefore Fiebiger): “topographic name for someone who lived by a drovers’ road, Middle High German vihewec, from vehe, vihe, vich ‘cattle’ + wec ‘way’, ‘path’. The surname originated chiefly in Saxony, Silesia, and Bohemia.” The first part of that compound has interesting etymological connections to English and Latin:

    https://www.ahdictionary.com/word/search.html?q=fee

    According to the Wikipedia article that you’ve presumably read, the second half of the earliest known version of Humpty Dumpty, from 1797, differs from what has become the standard:

    Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
    Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
    Four-score Men and Four-score more,
    Could not make Humpty Dumpty where he was before.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That is an interesting etymology, Steve. Even today “Vieh” is the German word for cattle.
      And I did read about the older version of the poem. Also, the reference to a cannon one other blogger pointed out, but I thought more references would have led us too far afield.

      Like

  2. als ich das humpty-dumpty in der überschrift las, dachte ich gleich an den humpty-dumpty sat on a wall. und dann dachte ich: woher kenne ich das eigentlich? und ich las weiter und dachte, ach ja, genau, aus alice im wunderland. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I like public art that lifts the spirit, and this initiative does just that. A bit like “you can’t unscramble an egg” we have a saying here, when anything is broken beyond repair or has gone wrong and can never be fixed, which runs “You can’t put Humpty Dumpty back together again.” I guess you don’t have that in the US?
    Thank you for sharing Trumpty-Dumpty, which has also lifted my spirits 🙂. All eyes on 3 November!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Humpty Dumpty was an important part of early childhood here…one of the few rhymes I remember. 🙂 I love ‘Eggie the Eagle’ – eggstradordinary, hehe!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Klasse!
    Trumpty Dumpty ist ja wohl cool.

    “Trumpty Dumpty wollte eine Krone: Verse für ein despotisches Zeitalter”
    Die Bücher sind zur Zeit nicht lieferbar.
    Da hätte ich gerne mal drin geschmökert.

    Liebe Grüße über den großen Teich.
    Bald wissen wir, ob Trumpty Dumpty weiter im Weißen Haus sitzt oder nicht.
    Ich bin gespannt.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Humpty-Dumpty was a part of my childhood, along with a whole assortment of other wonderful characters. I had to smile at the lines from that earlier version Steve mentioned:
    “Four-score Men and Four-score more,
    Could not make Humpty Dumpty where he was before.”
    I’m glad that didn’t survive, and I’m not surprised. It’s bad poetry — the rhythm dissolves at the end. A better version might be:
    “Four-score Men and four-score more,
    Left Humpty Dumpty both broken and sore.”

    All that aside, I really enjoyed seeing the art. Those Humpties are good eggs, as we say: charming, handsome, amusing, quirky. I confess I like the original best. He reminds me of my patient father, waiting for my mother while she shopped for clothes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Linda. I liked your suggestion for a different ending to the earlier version. Surely, whatever it was that was broken into pieces, would have been sore.
      And I agree with your assortment of adjectives you bestowed on the art. If there are more amusing or quirky humpty-dumpties hiding in the city, I hope to find them.

      Liked by 1 person

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