“As I was going to St Ives” is a riddle rhyme, having its origins in the 18th century England. Most probably St Ives refers to an old village in Cornwall, England.
The riddle is more of a logical problem than a mathematical one; still the answer to the riddle is uncertain: How many were going to St Ives? Actually we need to find out who is finally going to St Ives?
- Only the narrator is going?
- The narrator with the man he meets?
- The narrator together with all the people he meets up?
- Are also all the animals counted?
- Or perhaps the riddle is even more complicated: Kits, cats, sacks, wives / how many were going to St Ives? In this case the answer would be none.
Bellow will find the modern version of the song, first published in 1825.
“As I was going to St Ives” Lyrics
As I was going to St Ives
I met a man with seven wives
Every wife had seven sacks
Every sack had seven cats
Every cat had seven kits
Kits, cats, sacks, wives
How many were going to St Ives?