Three Little Mice -
for medium voice and piano
little mice sat down to spin.
Pussy came by and she peeped in.
What are you doing my little friends?
We're making coats for gentlemen.
May I come in and bite off your threads?
Oh no, gentle pussy, you'd bite off our heads.
Little mice, you're very wise,
I love your whiskers and big brown eyes.
Your house is the prettiest house I've seen.
I'm sure there is room for both you and for me.
The mice were so pleased, they opened the door,
And pussy, she left them all dead on the floor.
pages, circa 2' 00"
detail above from a larger work shows three little mice. A number of Beatrix
Potter’s narrative sequences of drawings were inspired by nursery rhymes.
Beatrix Potter (1866-1943) illustrated the rhyme ‘Three little mice sat down
to spin’ in circa 1892, towards a book which remained unfinished. She made
these pen and ink studies and six finished watercolors: one for each line of
the nursery rhyme, though various sources show variants on the rhyme itself.
Other variants can be found in Harry's Ladder to Learning (1850),
A History of Nursery Rhymes (1899) by Percy B. Green, and The Big
Book of Nursery Rhymes (circa 1920) edited by Walter Jerrold, Variants
include the number of lines and the specified number of the mice themselves.
Tree? Four? Six?
The setting in D minor quotes a gesture from Schubert's setting of Goethe's
Gretchen am Spinnrade," D 118, and other gestures, arpeggios and
parallelisms accompany the narrative, as narrator, mice and cat all take
their lines in turn.
The score is available as a free PDF download, though any major
commercial performance or recording of the work is prohibited without prior
arrangement with the composer. Click on the graphic below for this art song score.
Three Little Mice