There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly

“There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly” is a cumulative song that tells the story as funny as it is absurd of a woman who after swallowing a fly, and then a spider that has to catch the fly, ends up swallowing bigger and bigger animals, until she dies after swallowing a horse that was supposed to catch the cow.

The song can be a metaphor for many situations that seem simple or insignificant and can become complicated if we find inappropriate solutions or if we think we are invincible.

First known simply as “I know an old lady”, the lyrics of “There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly” was written in its current form by the author of the book with the same name, Rose Bonne and the music by artist Alan Millis, in 1952.

“There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly” Lyrics

There was an old lady who swallowed a fly
I don’t know why she swallowed a fly – Perhaps she’ll die!
There was an old lady who swallowed a spider
That wriggled and jiggled and tickled inside her!

She swallowed the spider to catch the fly;
I don’t know why she swallowed a fly – Perhaps she’ll die!
There was an old lady who swallowed a bird;
How absurd to swallow a bird!

She swallowed the bird to catch the spider
That wriggled and jiggled and tickled inside her!
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly;
I don’t know why she swallowed a fly – Perhaps she’ll die!
There was an old lady who swallowed a cat;
Fancy that! She swallowed a cat!

She swallowed the cat to catch the bird,
She swallowed the bird to catch the spider
That wriggled and jiggled and tickled inside her!
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly;
I don’t know why she swallowed a fly – Perhaps she’ll die!
There was an old lady that swallowed a dog;
What a hog, to swallow a dog!

She swallowed the dog to catch the cat,
She swallowed the cat to catch the bird,
She swallowed the bird to catch the spider
That wriggled and jiggled and tickled inside her!

She swallowed the spider to catch the fly;
I don’t know why she swallowed a fly – Perhaps she’ll die!
There was an old lady who swallowed a goat;
She just opened her throat and swallowed a goat!

She swallowed the goat to catch the dog,
She swallowed the dog to catch the cat,
She swallowed the cat to catch the bird,
She swallowed the bird to catch the spider
That wriggled and jiggled and tickled inside her!
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly;
I don’t know why she swallowed a fly – Perhaps she’ll die!
There was an old lady who swallowed a cow;
I don’t know how she swallowed a cow!

She swallowed the cow to catch the goat,
She swallowed the goat to catch the dog,
She swallowed the dog to catch the cat,
She swallowed the cat to catch the bird,
She swallowed the bird to catch the spider
That wriggled and jiggled and tickled inside her!
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly;
I don’t know why she swallowed a fly – Perhaps she’s dead
There was an old lady who swallowed a horse;

…She’s dead, of course!

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