Preamble: my contribution to this week's Saturday Rhymers theme - with apologies to anyone called Jack.
Men called Jack must always complain
About their name being taken in vain.
In language, literature, songs and nursery rhymes
The name “Jack” crops up time after time.
Whenever a male figure is expected
Chances are a character called “Jack” will be selected.
What have these poor guys ever done
To be known for all trades and yet masters of none?
Are there really any Jacks that are so full of spite
They don’t care about others as long as they’re “alright”?
The Cousin Jacks from Cornwall may have mined the lode,
But in rock n’ roll poor Jack is told to “hit the road”.
Now nursery rhyme books from front to back
Are chock full of tales about boys called Jack.
There’s opportunist Jack Horner with his plum pie
The story of Jack-a-nory, or Jack who jumped so high
To nimbly avoid injury over the candlestick.
Then there’s the house that Jack built (presumably of brick).
There’s the fun family fable of Mr Jack Sprat
With his peculiar diet and his wife so fat
And everybody’s heard of poor Jack and Jill
And their unfortunate tumble down a dangerous hill.
(We learn that the cure for a broken crown
Is vinegar on paper and a bit of a lie-down).
Jack appears in fairy tales as often as he can
Is this in fact because the name was simply slang for “man”?
There’s Jack the giant killer, Jack Frost so cold.
Jack who climbs the Beanstalk to steal the giant’s gold.
Silly Lazy Jack, who kept being so daft
Until the rich man’s daughter saw him and laughed.
Oscar Wilde brings to Jack rebukes of the sternest
For failing, it seems, to be sufficiently (called) Ernest.
Then in language itself, the word “Jack” also thrives,
It’s found in jackdaws, jackhammers, jack leads and jack knives
We jack things up, jack things in, and other collocations
Some of which can have rather sordid connotations.
Here are just a few Jacks, there’s many that I’ve missed
It would take a lifetime to go through the whole list.
In language and literature, folk called Jack abound
It seems that where’s there words, there’s a Jack to be found.
But despite their name being something of a joke,
Every guy called "Jack" I've known has been a lovely bloke.
A mean and scary Jack ,that would wish people ill,
Really wouldn’t seem to linguistically fit the Bill…
But that’s another story.