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Some Thoughts On “The Cheese”

The writer Anne Lamott says writers are observers on the sidelines, that writers are off to the side, observing and taking notes about their characters, like “The Cheese” in “The Farmer in the Dell,” standing alone, watching.

While the metaphor rather amused me, it distracted me too much from reading the rest of the essay.  I realized I was about 4 paragraphs past the above metaphor, and had no clue what I’d just read, because not only was I singing the dumb song (“The Farmer takes a wife, the farmer takes a wife, hi ho the derry-oh, the farmer takes a wife”) but also because I was contemplating the lot of the cheese.

Why was the cheese standing alone?
Was it Britain’s Stinking Bishop cheese?
Had the cheese been cut?

I don’t know.

On a side note: logically, I can follow the thread of the song: farmer takes wife, wife takes dog, dog takes cat, cat takes rat, rat takes cheese.  Obviously, as the cheese is an inanimate object, it cannot take anything.  So, in order for there to be an end of the song, it has to stop somewhere, with the thing that can’t take, standing there, doing nothing, by itself.

But still.


Standing alone?

After being taken by the rat?

And why is the fact the poor cheese is standing alone worth a “hi ho the derry-oh?”

“Hi ho the derry-oh” seems happy.

Standing alone, at the end of a song where everyone else in the song gets to take something, seems rather sad and melancholy.

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