Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire

This one is for my daughter.  When I wrote a month or so ago that I was going to post about old sayings and where they came from, my daughter made a request.  She wanted me to find out where the saying "liar, liar, pants on fire" originated.
As is the case with most of these sayings, the background and how it started is obscure but the consensus on the Internet seems to all come back to a poem allegedly written by English writer William Blake.  I use the word allegedly because the jury is still out on that one. 

The Liar

Deceiver, dissembler
Your trousers are alight
From what pole or gallows
Shall they dangle in the night?

When I asked of your career
Why did you have to kick my rear
With that stinking lie of thine
Proclaiming that you owned a mine?

When you asked to borrow my stallion
To visit a nearby-moored galleon
How could I ever know that you
Intended only to turn him into glue?

What red devil of mendacity
Grips your soul with such tenacity?
Will one you cruelly shower with lies
Put a pistol ball between your eyes?

What infernal serpent
Has lent you his forked tongue?
From what pit of foul deceit
Are all these whoppers sprung?

Deceiver, dissembler
Your trousers are alight
From what pole or gallows
Do they dangle in the night?

The next part of the saying that we don't commonly use or hear is "Liar, liar, pants on fire, hang them up on a telephone wire."  During my research I also found this, "Liar, liar, pants on fire, nose as long as a telephone wire."  I would imagine that references Pinocchio.

Today it is just a saying kids scream at each other on the playground when they think someone is being less than honest.  I must admit, I still say it from time to time to my own kids.  It's one of those rhymes that stands the test of time and still gets your point across.

I found this on another site:  "I don't care, I don't care, I can buy another pair!"

Who knew?

R. K. Avery