Nursery rhymes are one of the primary ways to introduce a toddler to words, sounds, music, and stories. They immediately relate to the tunes and the characters and respond to them.
That is why they are supposed to be simple, pleasant, educational, and fun. However, many nursery rhymes we know of also have dark background stories. Their origins are not as simple and naive as we think.
Eeper Weeper is one example where the words are not child-friendly; hence, it has ceased to exist as a popular rhyme.
Let’s read more about it and find out why.
Eeper Weeper, chimney sweeper,
Had a wife but couldn’t keep her.
Had another, didn’t love her,
Up the chimney he did shove her.
Save the printable PDF file by clicking on this link.
There are not many resources for this poem and song as it is mostly not used anymore. We are adding a link from YouTube for the song.
Origin and History
"Eeper Weeper", also often referred to as "Heeper Peeper" is a famous English nursery rhyme and skipping song. The rhyme talks about a chimney sweeper who could not keep his first wife (reasons unknown). Then, he kills his second wife and hides her body in a chimney. The content is not child-friendly; hence, the rhyme has faded over time due to inappropriate wordings.
The origin of the rhyme is unknown, but from the Weeper surname, we might trace it back to the 18th or 19th century. The Weeper surname was found in the USA and Scotland between 1880 and 1920.
Iona and Peter Opie indicate that the rhyme was there in its current form from at least the first decade of the 20th century. However, there is evidence that it was first recorded in the 19th century in England.
A verse from Aberdeen, Scotland and published in 1868, had the words:
Peter, my neeper,
Had a wife,
And he couidna' keep her,
He pat her i' the wa',
And lat a' the mice eat her.
However, it is unclear if this is the older version of "Eeper Neeper" and of another rhyme called "Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater".
The chimney sweeper didn’t love his second wife, so he killed her and stuffed her body in the chimney. The meaning is quite gruesome, especially for kids. So, this is highly inappropriate for kids.
Eeper Weeper is a chimney cleaner by profession. The rhyme is about how he lost both his wives- one he could not keep and one he killed.
This rhyme is inappropriate for kids because of the wording and its meaning. It is unsuitable for young children as it indicates violence and crime.