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Poetry Guide: Mares Eat Oats

"Mares Eat Oats" is a nursery rhyme.


Mares Eat Oats Words and Music by Milton Drake, Al Hoffman and Jerry Livingston. This song was produced in Al Trace's 1944 record.

Mares-eat oats and does eat oats,
And little lambs eat ivy,
A kid will eat ivy too,
Wouldn't you?

Sung quicky, it sounds like this:

Maresy-doats and dozy-doats,
And liddle lamzy divey,
A kiddley divey too,
Wouldn't you-oo?


One of the writers, Milton Drake, had been familiar with the phrase "mares eat oats, does eat oats," from a very old childhood nursery rhyme. The three writers then got together and came up with a tune for the nursery rhyme. While they tried to publish the song, no one would take it because it sounded so silly. After a year, the writers gave Al Trace, a bandleader of "Silly Symphonists," a shot. He liked the song and completed it. After it was produced it became a huge hit. Even the American troops sang it in World War II marching off ships at foreign ports. Soldiers also used the lyrics as passwords. It was then spread around the world. After many years it was also used in movies and TV shows.