Origin of Moses Supposes…rhyme

One of my most enduring –not to say endearing– features is my compulsion to get to the bottom of things.  Anything that is written about, spoken, preached, gossiped about, published in books, posted  online, or otherwise  distributed for the purpose of being passed on to others, must be attributed to the earliest possible source.

Yesterday I publishd a photo of some late-blooming roses, which appeared under the title: Roses Supposing it is July.

The reference was to a rhyme that has stuck to my mind and popped up conveniently when I needed it.   Yesterday’s post included the words as I remembered them from the dim recesses of my brain — and the version as set down is so close that it doesn’t need repeating right here.

One of my readers (thanks, Belinda O)  remembered the origin of the rhyme as being the 1952 movie Singing in the Rain, starring  Gene Kelly   and featuring lots of dancing and singing, and all-around sweet and talented performances.   (As an aside, I recently found a VCR tape of this movie at a garage sale, and bought it…seeing as how this is one of my all-time films.

Yes, I remember it from the movie also…from my high school years.  But there was something that made me think that the little tongue-twisting poem originated earlier  in my memory.   So I did my thing–looked it up.  And I found what I was looking for.

Only slightly different than the version I remembered, it was from at least as early as 1896    in England, of course..as are most of the nursery rhymes that I learned.

[The following insert is copied from Mama Lisa’s World, International Music  Culture.        http://www.mamalisa.com/blog/


Posies can mean a bunch of flowers or a single flower.

The version from 1896 is:

If Moses supposes his toeses are roses,
Then Moses supposes erroneously;
For nobody’s toeses are posies or roses,
As Moses supposes his toeses to be.

This rhyme goes back to at least 1896, where it can be found in, “The Bachelor of arts: a monthly magazine devoted to university, Vol. 3”, edited by John Seymour Wood.


>Mama Lisa’s site is a great source of lyrics and nursery rhymes from around the world.   Also articles and information on various holidays, celebrations, and related information.

6 thoughts on “Origin of Moses Supposes…rhyme

  1. I have this same problem and when i visit the museums i have this habit of touching the things and just getting in to that whole aura of that thing being actually used by someone or touched by people from past…. Its all like surreal 🙂


    1. I know what you mean, I also get into the auras of old places and times. I touched an ancient book one time, and got yelled at…I knew I shouldn’t touch it, but couldn’t help myself. Sometimes I can feel the enegy all around me.

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  2. You do the same thing I do, and I can claim the same reason, a journalism background. Others call it obsessive behavior, but I just say it’s curiosity!


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