Hickory Dickory Dock,
The mouse ran up the clock.
The clock struck one,
The mouse ran down!
Hickory Dickory Dock.
When I was a child, I thought this rhyme told the story of a desperate mouse in search of safety. Having had no experience with actual mice, I assumed that the sole functions of the species were to eat cheese and escape being eaten by cats. Thus, I assumed that the mouse in this rhyme was searching for a hiding place from an unmentioned cat, possibly after having committed the crime of eating the household's cheese. The mouse ran to the clock, which, according to my book of nursery rhymes, was a grandfather clock, in search of refuge. Alas! The clock chimed the hour, frightening the mouse, who reacted by running away, down the clock, in search of a new hiding place.
When I grew older, this rhyme began to take the shape of a metaphor. The clock represented the human individual. The mouse represented inspiration, a muse, the holy spirit, caffienne, drugs, or whatever the human individual required to function as a creative and energetic individual. The mouse, as the embodiment of this inspiration, then climbed to the seat of human intelligence, as represented by the top of the clock. The individual, thus inspired, sprang into action, as represented by the striking of the clock. With the action in motion, the source of inspiration was no longer required. Thus, the mouse ran down the clock.
The bracketing lines of "Hickory, Dickory, Dock," serve as incantations. They represent the small rituals in which the individual engages in order to summon the inspiration, such as prayer, the burning of incense or the lighting of the cigarette, the brewing of coffee or tea, the opening of a diet Coke can, and the arrangement of paraphernalia. "Hickory, Dickory, Dock" summoned the mouse, or the inspiration, at the beginning of the rhyme. The repetition of the line at the end signified that, much like a wound clock must be re-wound to keep working, inspiration must be summoned again and again for the individual to maintain action.
Of course, there are some days when the little mouse does not quite go all the way to the top of the clock.