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Dance, Thumbkin, dance;
Dance, ye merrymen, everyone.
For Thumbkin, he can dance alone,
Thumbkin, he can dance alone.

Dance, Foreman, dance,
Dance, ye merrymen, everyone.
But Foreman, he can dance alone,
Foreman, he can dance alone.

Dance, Longman, dance,
Dance, ye merrymen, everyone.
For Longman, he can dance alone,
Longman, he can dance alone.

Dance, Ringman, dance,
Dance, ye merrymen, dance.
But Ringman cannot dance alone,
Ringman, he cannot dance alone.

Dance, Littleman, dance,
Dance, ye merrymen, dance.
But Littleman, he can dance alone,
Littleman he can dance alone.

From The Real Mother Goose

For Everyone, move all fingers
for Thumbkin, keep the thumb in motion
for Foreman, move the index finger alone
for Longman, move the middle finger
for Ringman, move the ring finger
for Littleman, wiggle your pinky.


"For Thumbkin, he can dance alone"
It has been pointed out to me that this poem says "for" where a "but" would make more sense. I fully agree that a change could be made for the better, and that the verse should certainly be sung like that by all logically upright citizens.

However, this is the way the song appeared in The Real Mother Goose, an important part of children's literature which I would like to document faithfully. Feel free to sing your own version in the nursery, though.

Ringman cannot dance alone
Despite the song's shortcomings, there is also knowledge in it. The ring finger can't move on its own, it says. And this is true. You and the little one can both try this out. Make a fist and try to extend only the third finger, without moving any of the others. You'll find that it's impossible. This is because the third finger doesn't have an extensor muscle of its own, it has to share extensor digitorum with the little finger.

So not only does Mother Goose teach us history, she also gives us some basic anatomy! Go Goose!

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