Monday, January 21, 2013

messages from a lullaby

Four thousand years ago, a Babylonian scribe immortalized a lullaby.

Like many lullabies of that time and this, the tune may have sent sweet babes into the arms of Morpheus, but their words of warning were not always so sweet.

The Babylonian lullaby, for example, chastises the child for disturbing the house god with its crying and threatens repercussions. In Kenya, a lullaby informs the child that a baby that cries will be eaten by a hyena. Even the "Rock-a-bye-Baby" melody widely known in English, comes with the caveat that "when the bough breaks, the cradle will fall."

The two-edged sword of lullabies makes me think that perhaps they were intended not just for the babies at which they were aimed, but also at the exasperations and wishful threats of the parents who sang them.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this. I have seen "articles" that claim that babies in other countries do not cry because outside of the United States, all other mothers practice attachment parenting. The not-so-subtle message being that if I were doing my job as a parent, my babies wouldn't cry.