Who Killed Cock Robin?

This is my musing on who killed Cock Robin: Was it the sparrow as alleged (and confessed), the owl who knew too much, the rook who read a book, the lark who was lighted the dark, or the forces of a corrupt bird-brained society?

The chromolithographic pages here are from an 1880s edition of the famous English folksong/poem. “Who killed cock robin” is alleged to refer to the death of the legendary figure of Robin Hood, not that of a mere bird. Arguments a-bubble over this interpretation. The poem describes how help was offered from all quarters following Cock Robin’s death, thus reflecting the high esteem in which Robin was held by just plain folk. However, as Dr. Freud might have said, a robin may just be a robin and the murderer may be the forces of nature, more sinister and overt.

Who caught his blood?
I, said the Fish,
with my little dish,
I caught his blood.
Who’ll make the shroud?
I, said the Beetle,
with my thread and needle,
I’ll make the shroud.

If this is all a little confusing and confused, this edition of “The Death and Burial of Poor Cock Robin” is a masterful example of 19th-century chromolithography, when color was applied to paper like layers of brilliant primaries.

Chromolithography revolutionized the printing industry and intoxicated the world with lush colorful hues. It transformed calling cards, wedding announcements, greeting cards, tickets, cigar box labels, advertising posters and many other types of printed ephemera into eye-catching works of art that proved too beautiful to be thrown away after temporary use.

This book, while musty to smell, is beautiful to hold and caress, despite its lugubrious theme.

The killer.

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