Wake snakes and come to Taw
Posted by Lewis on January 31, 2005
In Reply to: Wake snakes and come to Taw posted by mugball-us on January 31, 2005
: : : This is the first line of a funny little ditty my Grandmother would recite. Her ancestors came to Georgia from England. I know there is a Taw River in Devon. I don't see one in Georgia. Is this line a part of something else- a poem, song, etc.? I do not bother to give the rest of the ditty as it has nothing to do with this one line. Thanks.
: : It might have a Biblical origin. The Tau (Taw) cross and serpents feature in some of the Books of the Bible. The rest of the ditty might give us a clue.
: I have no idea where the Taw is. There is a Haw River in North Carolina, and a Wake County too, but that is a stretch.
: The line seems to have been pretty well known in Kentucky in the late 19th Century. I found the following reference in Irvin S Cobb's "Exit Laughing". The book speaks of a country lawyer whose shingle reads,
: "WAKE SNAKES AND COME TO TAW
: B.L.D. GUFFEY WILL PRACTICE LAW"
: I am curious about your grandmother's ditty, too.
The river Taw is in Devon (South West England).
I think it is the reason for the naming of Taunton - settlement on the river Taw. Spelling was fairly fluid and the river could just as easily be "Tau" but pronounced "Taw" (as in straw).
I think that the Tau cross was like Aldous Huxley's "T". The cross had many variations the Tau, the Ankh etc. The cross with a snake has its origins in the Staff of Hermes if I remember correctly - the intertwined snakes used as a symbol for medicine.
having looked it up, it is called the caduceus and was later attached to Mercury - being the Romanised version of Hermes.