What Is The Children’s Chant “and We All Fall Down”

Ring Around the Rosie: Metafolklore, Rhyme and Reason

The earliest publication of “Ring Around the Rosie” in English was Kate Greenaway’s Mother Goose or the Old Nursery Rhymes (1881), which was illustrated by Kate Greenaway. Her image was first published in 1881 and is consequently considered to be in the public domain today. “Five London Nursery Rhymes Depicting Death and Ruin,” according to a recent blog article on the Londonist website. The rhymes in question have a variety of origins and histories, but one thing that stands out from James FitzGerald’s work is that they are about gloomy and foreboding events in English history.

A closer examination of these rhymes, as well as the research around them, provides other readings.

A-tishoo!

In his book The Great Plague, FitzGerald asserts unequivocally that this poem was inspired by the Great Plague, a bubonic and pneumonic plague outbreak that struck London in the year 1665: The Great Plague is the theme of Ring-a-Ring-a-Roses, with the show’s seeming playfulness serving as a backdrop for one of London’s greatest atavistic dreads (thanks to the Black Death).

  1. Despite the fact that this interpretation first appeared in the mid-twentieth century and has since gained general acceptance, it has never been embraced by folklorists for a variety of reasons.
  2. This enables us to investigate if the precise imagery connected with the disease appear in all or perhaps the majority of versions of the story.
  3. Many versions do not have any words that sound like sneezes, and many versions do not include any reference of falling.
  4. Throughout the song, “posies,” or flower bouquets, can be seen practically everywhere.
  5. In an 1883 article, William Wells Newell provided numerous variations, including the following: The flowers are arranged in a circle around the vase.
  6. Make a rosie ring around your finger.
  7. The song was donated to the Library of Congress by the Lomaxes.

The following were the exact words: Rosey is surrounded by a ring of friends.

Try to guess who she revealed to me, tralalalala.

Red was her boyfriend, tralalalala, and she adored him.

If you don’t like him, stomp on him!

The one who is the last to do so (or the one who does it first) is subject to a penalty, which may include professing love for (or hugging or kissing) another youngster.

Newell clearly indicates that the game was played in this manner in the United States in the 1880s, and European analogs from the same period and later are strikingly comparable.

In April 1941, children in Chicago, Illinois, participated in the game “Ring Around the Rosie.” Edwin Rosskam photographed by the Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress.

According to plague theorists, it is still plausible that the rhyme’s original meaning was the plague, and that youngsters adapted the rhyme for use in their games and dances.

For example, this rhyme and dance is widely diffused around the world, and records from it appear on the European continent before they do in the United Kingdom.

While this is true, there is no indication that the rhyme was used in English until the late nineteenth century.

Following this unverified assertion, the rhyme does not appear in the English language until 1881.

Daniel Defoe’s The Dreadful Visitation: in a short description of the course and consequences of the epidemic is shown on the cover of this book.

The Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress.

People began to associate the rhyme with death and catastrophe in 1949, when a parody of the rhyme began with the words “ring-a-ring-o’-geranium, a pocketful of uranium” and made reference to the bombing of Hiroshima was published in the newspaper The Observer (London, England).

This is the earliest direct mention to the plague interpretation that we have found: Finally, there is just no actual evidence to support this claim.

Sadly, neither of these types of evidence has been discovered, despite the thorough day-to-day chronicles of life in London in 1665 and the first-person stories of the Plague written by persons who were there when it happened.

All of this leads to skepticism among academics, to put it mildly.

After all, the story is folklore in and of itself: it is a tale that was first handed down by word of mouth, then written down and shared on the internet.

If the plague myth is based on folklore, we can expect to come across it in a variety of forms and variations over time.

According to the Londonists, the rhyme is a reference to the Great Plague of 1665, while according to others, it is a reference to the Black Death of 1347.

Among these two major forms, there are other sub-variants: for example, FitzGerald and others claim that the 1665 rhyme began in London, whilst others claim that it started in Eyam, a hamlet in the English Midlands that was also stricken by plague during the same year.

There are also countless different versions of this narrative, each with its own unique twists and turns.

The ring is a rose skin rash for supporters of the pneumonic plague, and the ring is an inflammation surrounding a black buboe for supporters of the bubonic plague, respectively.

It’s possible for metafolkloric stories to be correct or erroneous; nevertheless, in any instance, there’s generally a compelling reason for us to keep repeating them or a deeper truth that they reflect.

Historiographers, for whom catching a glimpse of the distant past in the present is always intriguing, find it particularly appealing.

As part of their job description, such historians must explain how the epidemic has continued to affect our lives, and the opportunity to use a nursery rhyme that everyone knows and tie it into this rich historical context is appealing.

Londonist “celebrates London and all that happens in it,” according to the Eyam article, which has been circulated through travel blogs.

Finally, there are many people who have a fascination with the macabre, and nothing is more distressing than the thought of little children playing to the sound of sickness and death being described.

Even lecturers who are aware that it is not true can’t help but say it!

Some of the discipline’s founders believed in the notion of survivals, which stated that cultural resources such as nursery rhymes preserved information from the past that would otherwise have been lost.

It’s a bit of a paradox that the plague narrative resembles nothing more than a nineteenth-century folklorist’s interpretation of the rhyme, but that contemporary folklorists are frequently annoyed by the story’s endurance.

Its allure is undeniable, and we understand why: in the marketplace of ideas, a compelling tale typically outsells a set of facts.

Do you have a fascinating tale to tell about a nursery rhyme that you’re interested in learning more about? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!

Resources

It should be noted that some of the books listed above with links to their Library of Congress catalog records are also available as free electronic resources elsewhere. However, while the Library of Congress cannot guarantee the quality of the reproduction, the correctness of the content, or the aesthetics of the presentation, these resources may be valuable to our readers in some cases. The following things are available for public use: Author and illustrator Kate Greenaway created an illustrated version of Mother Goose or the Old Nursery Rhymes.

Daniel Defoe’s A Journal of the Plague Year is a historical novel.

Wheatley edited Samuel Pepys’s Diary, which spans the years 1659-1669.

Beware Of Mother Goose: 6 Horrifying Nursery Rhymes Decoded

Published on October 31, 2014 at 7:07 p.m. Central Daylight Time. The simple rhymes and tunes we all know and love, thanks to Mother Goose, were not originally intended for children. The majority of nursery rhymes were written by peasants as a form of social solidarity building activity. Themes in these rhymes span from infanticide to political treason, and when you find out what the majority of these poems are truly about, it may be downright frightening to read about them. In celebration of Halloween, here are six nursery rhymes that have been decrypted.

  1. He placed her in a pumpkin shell, and there he was able to keep her safe.
  2. Here’s what Justin Jones, an English professor at the University of North Texas, had to say about the situation.
  3. Credit nurseryrhymesmg/nurseryrhymesmg Jack Is Quick to React Jack must be agile, Jack must be swift, and Jack must leap over obstacles.
  4. Diverse academics believe that the practice of jumping over a candlestick evolved from an old pagan ritual of leaping over burning objects.
  5. This was intended to be a sign of good luck.
  6. Credit wikipedia/wikipedia Toss the Rosy in a circle.
  7. With its delightful little rhyme, young children like chanting it as they go around in a circle, holding hands with their parents.

History has claimed that this rhyme has its roots in the bubonic plague, which historians agree on.

The sweet-smelling plants (also known as posies) were carried in pockets and pouches because many think the sickness is spread through the inhalation of bad scents.

Credit nursery rhymes collection/nursery rhymes collection/nursery rhymes collection Mary, Mary, Mary, Mary, Mary, Mary, Mary, Quite the opposite, in fact.

What kind of growth do you see in your garden?

It’s generally accepted that the “Mary” in this poem is Mary Tudor, sometimes known as Bloody Mary, and that she is the subject of the poem.

She also used additional methods of execution and torture to bring them to justice.

The attractive maids in a row represented the individuals who were waiting to be killed by the guillotine in a line.

Credit should be given to blog-write-at-home/blog-write-at-home Humpty Dumpty is a character in the story of Humpty Dumpty.

All of the king’s horses, as well as all of the king’s soldiers It was impossible to put Humpty back together.

Humpty Dumpty was captured by the other side during a civil war in the United Kingdom.

Moreover, “all of the king’s horses and all of the king’s troops were unable to put Humpty back together again.” Fun roadtrip games/fun roadtrip games are given credit for.

Around the mulberry bush we go, around the mulberry bush, around the mulberry bush.

Such a little hour in the morning.

According to a jail warden, this song was inspired by a detention facility near Wakefield, England. It’s thought that once women were admitted to the jail, female convicts would sing the song while exercising with their children around a central mulberry bush in the prison yard, according to legend.

10 Oldest Nursery Rhymes in the English Language

Nursery rhymes were a part of most of our childhoods, and for many of us, they were among the first things we learnt to read. Their continued popularity is scarcely surprising: the rhymes and meters make them simple to memorize, and the vivid imagery has inspired generations of artists to create imaginative illustrations in response to them. Prior to the 18th century, children’s books were largely instructional in nature, and few individuals thought to record the rhymes and songs that they found entertaining.

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However, just because many of the most well-known nursery rhymes were not written for children does not preclude the fact that children have loved them, in some cases, for hundreds or even thousands of years.

10. Ring around the Rosie

Nursery rhymes were a part of most of our childhoods, and for many of us, they were among the first things we learnt to read when we were little children. Because of their rhymes and meters, they are easy to recall, and because of the vivid imagery, they have inspired generations of artists to create imaginative illustrations for them. Prior to the 18th century, children’s books were largely instructional in nature, and few individuals thought to record the rhymes and songs that they found enjoyable.

Although many of the most famous nursery rhymes were not written with children in mind, it hasn’t stopped youngsters from enjoying them for hundreds of years, if not thousands of years.

Did You Know?

Mother Goose or the Old Nursery Rhymes was originally published in 1881 (Kate Greenaway’sMother Goose or The Old Nursery Rhymes), although it had been sung in its current form for at least a century before that, and a German translation was first published in 1796.

9. Hey Diddle Diddle, The Cat and the Fiddle

Despite the fact that it was first published in 1881 (Kate Greenaway’sMother Goose or The Old Nursery Rhymes), it had been performed in its current form for at least a century before that, and a German translation of the song was published in 1796.

Did You Know?

However, it has been performed in its current form for at least a century before to then, and a German translation of the song was first published in 1881 (Kate Greenaway’sMother Goose or The Old Nursery Rhymes).

8. Rockabye Baby

The first documented publication was in 1765. United States of America is the country of origin. The number of verses is four. Although it is not the oldest rhyme on our list, “Rock-a-bye Baby” may be the oldest American nursery rhyme, according to some sources. According to theOxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes, it was the first English-language nursery rhyme composed in the New World, and it was written as early as the mid-1600s, according to the dictionary. But it wasn’t until Mother Goose’s Melody, a collection of rhymes for children, published in England in 1765 that the phrase had its first print appearance.

Regardless matter where it originated, it has remained one of the most lasting and famous rhymes throughout history.

Did You Know?

In its original publication, the poem was accompanied with the following footnote: “This may serve as a caution to the haughty and ambitious, who ascend to such heights that they almost always crash at the end.” Perhaps the best way to understand it is as a cautionary tale.

7. Jack Sprat

The first documented publication was in 1765. The United Kingdom is the country of origin. The number of verses is one. A variation of Jack Sprat and his wife (in this case, Jack and “Jull”) occurs in a collection of sayings published by John Clarke in 1639, which includes a version of Jack Sprat and his wife. Despite the fact that it was first published in Mother Goose’s Melody in 1765, it was most likely in use as a children’s rhyme much before then. Jack Sprat’s beginnings in political comedy have been speculated to be a reference to King Charles I, whose coffers were “thin” because parliament refused to tax him, according to some sources.

Did You Know?

In the 16th century, the phrase “Jack Sprat” was used to refer to persons who were especially little.

6. Baa Baa Black Sheep

The first documented publication was in 1744. The United Kingdom is the country of origin. The number of verses is one. It has altered very little since it was originally published in a book of nursery rhymes in 1744, and it is still a simple little piece of poetry. Some historians, on the other hand, believe that it dates back even farther, to the Great Custom, a tax on wool established by Edward I in 1275, in order to raise more money to fund his Middle Eastern wars. Approximately one-third of the wool was given to the “master” (the king), one-third was given to the “dame” (the Church), and one-third was given to the farmer (“the little kid who lives down the road”).

Critics point to the “black” sheep and the usage of the term “master,” but there is no conclusive proof that it is a reference to slaves or the slave trade in general.

Did You Know?

The earliest known publishing was in 1744, according to historical records. United Kingdom is the country of origin. Verse count: one verse Since it was first published in a book of nursery rhymes in 1744, this basic little rhyme has altered very little. Some historians, on the other hand, believe that it dates back even farther, to the Great Custom, a tax on wool introduced by Edward I in 1275, in order to raise more money to fund his Middle East wars. One-third of the wool was given to the “master” (the monarch), one-third was given to the “dame” (the Church), and one-third was given to the farmer (the “small kid who lives down the road.” A probable allusion to slavery has lately been raised in connection with the poem.

5. London Bridge is Falling Down

The first recorded publication is from 1744. Originating country: the United Kingdom There are one verse in all. It has altered very little since it was first published in a book of nursery rhymes in 1744, and it is still a basic little rhyme. Others believe it dates back much farther, to the Great Custom, a tax on wool set by Edward I in 1275 in order to raise funds for his Middle Eastern wars. One-third of the wool went to the “master” (the monarch), one-third went to the “dame” (the Church), and one-third went to the farmer (“the small lad who lives down the road”).

More recently, the poem has been criticized for allegedly making an allusion to slavery. Slaves and slavery are mentioned, as is the term “master,” but there is no conclusive proof that it is referring to slavery or the slave trade.

Did You Know?

However, the old London Bridge was not destroyed by a natural disaster, but was deliberately demolished in 1831 to make room for a bigger, broader bridge.

4. As I Was Going to St Ives

The earliest documented publication was in 1730. The United Kingdom is the country of origin. The number of verses is one. Have you ever tried to multiply seven times seven times seven only to discover that the result is one? The origins of this delightful puzzle may be traced back to a text from 1730, with a variation incorporating new spouses, bags of potatoes, kittens, and cats as the main characters. The contemporary version, complete with seven wives and other embellishments, first appeared in print in 1825.

Aspolygamy would have been rare in a 17th-century Cornish village, it is more likely that the word “wife” was used to refer to a “woman” at the time of the incident.

Did You Know?

Sesame Street andDie Hard 3 both make reference to the phrase “As I was going to St. Ives.”

3. Pat-a-cake, Pat-a-cake, Baker’s Man

The first documented publication was in 1698. The United Kingdom is the country of origin. The number of verses is one. Many youngsters learn to play the “patty-cake” game before they are mature enough to communicate verbally. The earliest known version of this still-popular rhyme comes from a 1698 play by Thomas D’Urfey, in which one of the characters says, “and pat a cake Bakers man, so I will master as I can, and prick it, and prick it, and prick it, and prick it, and prick it, and prick it, and prick it, and prick it, and prick it, and prick it It comes once more, in a version considerably similar to its current form, in Mother Goose’s Melodyin 1765, but it is likely that it had been popular as a children’s rhyme long before that.

Did You Know?

Since few people had ovens in their houses centuries ago, they would mark their uncooked pastries with a sign or letter before bringing them to public ovens to be baked until they were golden brown. According to legend, the Pat-a-Cake rhyme is an allusion to this ancient tradition.

2. To Market to Market

The first recorded publication is from 1598. The United Kingdom is the country of origin. The number of verses is six. This “knee-bouncing rhyme” is widely believed to have originated in 1805, when it was first published inSongs for the Nursery, a collection of nursery rhymes. Although it was originally documented in 1598 in John Florio’s A World of Wordes, or Most Copious, and accurate Dictionarie in Italian and English, it was not the first time it was used. It reappeared in the 1611 version of the same book as well.

Did You Know?

It was published for the first time in 1598. United Kingdom is the country of origin. Six poems are included in this collection. In 1805, when it was published in Songs for the Nursery, this “knee-bouncing rhyme” was widely regarded as having its origins.

A Worlde of Wordes, or Most Copious and precise Dictionarie in Italian and English was originally published in 1598 by John Florio and is the earliest known occurrence of this phrase in print. Another appearance was in the 1611 edition of the same book as the first.

1. Ding Dong Bell

The earliest recorded publication was in 1580. The United Kingdom is the country of origin. The number of verses is one. Ding Dong Bell is the earliest known nursery rhyme in the English language, having been documented as far back as the 16th century. In the earliest version of this poem, which was recorded in 1580 by John Lange, the organist of Winchester Cathedral, the unhappy cat does not make it out of the well, and the bells sound as if they are a funeral knell for the poor creature. Several later versions of the poem convert the short ditty into a morality story; for example, although the evil Johnny Green tosses the cat down the well, the virtuous Tommy Stout rescues her, and the rhyme is obviously intended to teach youngsters not to be harsh to an otherwise innocent animal.

Did You Know?

There are multiple instances of the term “ding dong bell” in one or more of Shakespeare’s plays.

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The Origins Of Ring Around The Rosie Aren’t What You Think

Iofoto/Shutterstock You might be surprised to learn that the roots of nursery rhymes are frequently dark and violent. Does it seem to you that many of these children’s verses hide dreadful historical facts that are not known to the adults who are joyfully reading them to their toddlers? Is it true that “Ring Around the Rosie” is about the Black Plague, as some have suggested? If you do, we’ve got a bridge we’d like to offer you for sale. There is an apparent insatiable thirst for dark, gritty reboots of nursery rhyme classics like “Humpty Dumplin” and “Ring Around the Rosie,” but, unfortunately (to some), the reality is that they are likely precisely what they appear to be: foolish nonsense for children.

According to Wikipedia, the most often performed rendition of “Ring Around the Rosie” goes somewhat like this: “Ring around the rosie / A pocket full of posies / Ashes, ashes / We all come tumbling down.” According to folklore, “Rosie” was composed during the time of the Black Plague, with each line referring to a different stage in the disease’s spread while it was being written.

You’ve got it all figured out, right?

Here’s why every single word of it is incorrect.

Sorry, it’s just a silly children’s rhyme

The Print Collector is represented by Getty Images. So, here’s the major reason we can be certain that “Ring Around the Rosie” isn’t about the Black Death: the symptoms of the Plague simply do not fit up with the rhyme’s alleged meaning. Infection with the bubonic plague causes buboes, which are swollen regions that are not particularly red or “rosie” in appearance. A respiratory variation exists, however that specific type of it is linked with coughing and wheezing — rather than sneezing — rather than sneezing (via theCenters for Disease Control and Prevention).

Second, the fact that “Ring Around the Rosie” was not written down until 1881, more than half a millennium after the first outbreak of the Black Death, puts this notion to rest.

The first references we have to the plague interpretation date back to the immediate post-World War II period (viaSnopes).

In certain circles, the phrase “pocket full of posies” refers to either an attempt to fend off foul odours or the habit of laying flowers on graves, while “Ashes, ashes” refers to either sneezing or the necessity to cremate sick dead, depending on who you ask. Oh, and it gets worse from there.

Here’s the real origin of Ring Around the Rosie

Getty Images/Collector of Prints This is the primary reason we can be certain that “Ring Around the Rosie” isn’t about the Black Death: The symptoms of the Plague simply do not correspond to the rhyme’s purported significance. Buboes – swollen patches — are caused by the bubonic plague, although they are not particularly red or “rosie” in appearance. A respiratory variety exists, but that particular type of it is connected with coughing and wheezing — rather than sneezing — rather than other symptoms (via theCenters for Disease Control and Prevention).

The second nail in the coffin of this idea is the fact that “Ring Around the Rosie” was not written down until 1881, more than half a millennium after the first epidemic of the Black Death occurred.

The first references we have to the plague interpretation date back to the immediate post-war period (viaSnopes).

In certain circles, the phrase “pocket full of posies” refers to either an attempt to fend off foul odours or the practice of laying flowers on graves, while “Ashes, ashes” refers to either sneezing or the necessity to cremate sick dead, depending on who you talk to.

The Morbid and Sinister Truths Behind Popular Nursery Rhymes

Humpty Dumpty, Jack and Jill, and Three Blind Mice, to name a few. We can all recall these famous nursery rhymes even as adults, many years after first hearing and learning them as children. In many situations, even after decades of not hearing them, we are still familiar with all of the vocabulary. They’re lovely little sing-alongs for tiny kids at school, each with their own set of entertaining characters and cute stories to share with the audience. At least, that’s how it appears to be. Author William Wallace Denslow illustrated Humpty Dumpty as a riddle with a solution in a Mother Goose story book published in 1902.

In reality, many of the seemingly benign nursery rhymes you used to adore as a child, and perhaps even taught to your own children over the years, have pretty dark origins or connotations behind them that you may not have realized.

Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary

Humpty Dumpty, Jack and Jill, and the Three Blind Mice are all characters in this story. All of us can recall these famous nursery rhymes, even as adults, years after first hearing and learning them as children. After decades of not hearing them, we still remember the majority of the words in many situations. Every one of them has their own humorous personalities and lovely stories to tell; they’re great little sing-a-longs for tiny kids at school! They certainly appear to be this way. In a 1902 Mother Goose tale book by William Wallace Denslow, Humpty Dumpty is shown as a riddle with an answer.

A number of the seemingly benign nursery rhymes you remember loving as a child, and perhaps even taught to your own children over the years, have pretty sinister origins or messages hidden within them, as you may have discovered.

Ring Around the Rosie

L. Leslie Brooke’s novel Ring O’Roses, published in 1922, depicts figures from nursery rhymes participating in the game. Ring Around the Rosie is yet another nursery rhyme that appears to be harmless and sweet on the surface but is actually rather macabre when we look deeper. Urban legends claim that this nursery rhyme, also known as Ring a Ring o’ Roses, is all about the Black Death, with the line “Ashes, Ashes” referring to the burning of bodies and the line “We all fall down” referring to the incredible spread of the plague and the way it caused so many people to fall down dead.

Jack and Jill

Various nursery rhyme figures are seen playing the game on the cover of L. Leslie Brooke’s Ring O’Roses (1922). Ring Around the Rosie is another another nursery rhyme that appears to be harmless and sweet on the surface but is actually somewhat macabre upon closer inspection. Urban legends claim that this nursery rhyme, also known as Ring a Ring o’ Roses, is about the Black Death, with the line “Ashes, Ashes” referring to the burning of bodies and the line “We all fall down” alluding to the plague’s incredible spread and the way it caused so many people to drop dead as a result.

Pop Goes the Weasel

At Knott’s Berry Farm, spinner Charlene Parker is seen with a weasel (on the left) and a spinning wheel (on the right). Photo courtesy of DTParker1000 CC BY-SA 4.0 (Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License) The phenomenon known as “Pop Goes the Weasel” is particularly intriguing, with a number of alternative hypotheses circulating about to attempt and explain it. According to one of the most frequently accepted explanations, the “weasel” refers to a coat (weasel and stoat), and the “pop” refers to the act of selling anything for a pawn.

Rock-A-Bye Baby

A spinning wheel (on the left) and a weasel (on the right) are on display at Knott’s Berry Farm, where spinner Charlene Parker is working. DTParker1000 contributed this photo. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 International License. Among the many bizarre phenomena is “Pop Goes the Weasel,” which has generated a number of different ideas to attempt to explain it. According to one of the most frequently accepted explanations, the “weasel” refers to a coat (weasel and stoat), and the “pop” refers to the act of giving something away.

Nursery Rhymes

An essayist’s most embarrassing moment is suggesting some reading material without providing a specific justification for doing so. It is in violation of tradition. As an example, when arguing for the value of fairy tales, Bruno Bettelheim felt compelled to title his book “The Uses of Enchantment,” as if enchantment alone was not a sufficient reward unless it also served some practical function. Nonetheless, here I am, arguing in favor of nursery rhymes for no other reason than the fact that they are pleasant.

  • Nicola Bayley contributed to this article (Knopf) Others have attempted to defend the nursery rhymes by claiming that they offer children valuable lessons.
  • When the snoozing Little Boy Blue is called to blow his horn because of a wandering sheep, what lesson is to be learned?
  • And what are the lessons to be learned in child-rearing from the story of “The Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe,” who responds to hungry children by whipping them mercilessly and sending them to their beds?
  • I’m going to rock you to sleep, up in the treetops.
  • To extract meaning from nursery songs is like trying to squeeze blood out of a stone, as the saying goes.
  • Other times, people reminisce about childhood activities: “London Bridge is on its way down.” “Ring Around the Rosie,” as the song goes.
  • Although this has prohibited historians from searching for historical events that inspired the rhymes, we are told that the “ashes” and “we all fall down” in “London Bridge” relate to the Black Plague, which destroyed Europe’s population during the time period of the rhyme.

“The Real Mother Goose,” as they say.

(Cartwheel) There may, however, be one historical truth regarding the nursery rhymes that is worth knowing about them.

This is just nonsense.

However, in the 18th and 19th centuries, American publishers were concerned about copyright issues when publishing collections of nursery rhymes, so they utilized this phrase and referred to their books as “Mother Goose” works in order to circumvent copyright issues.

They are distant cousins of lullabies and skip-rope rhymes, among other things.

When one of my sisters refused to do her duties, we sang, “Elsie Marley believes she’s fine,” which meant “Elsie Marley is fine.” She is not going to get up to feed the pigs.

Elsie Marley is in such distress.

It’s possible that searching for significance in Mother Goose is a fruitless endeavor.

Those who have read “Hickory Dickory Dock” and “Three Blind Mice” may recall that some of the characters make absolutely no sense–that is, they are gibberish.

Randolph Caldecott’s “The Dish Got Away with the Spoon” is a children’s book.

The beauty of nursery rhymes is in the way the words are employed to create melody via repetition.

In any case, the sheer sound of their rhythms, which are extremely accentuated, is what makes them so captivating.

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The cat and the violin, to name a couple such examples.

The small puppy burst out laughing.

Nursery rhymes have been passed down from generation to generation by word of mouth since the beginning of time, but in the last two or three centuries, they have also appeared in print, often with beautiful drawings.

It is fair to say that Mother Goose’s contributions should be prominently displayed on every child’s bookshelf since, in a well-run household, they serve as the Very First Book for Baby as well as the first musical exposure to the delights of poetry.

English Nursery Rhymes with Unexpected and Sometimes Disturbing Historical Origins

Many people identify nursery rhymes with reading cheerful stories to youngsters, or with their own childhood memories of singing nursery rhymes while playing with their friends. Popular interpretations for the origins of some English nursery rhymes, on the other hand, reveal that they may be more nuanced and frightening than they appear at first glance. There is disagreement over the actual times when they were composed, as well as the message that some of these rhymes were intended to convey.

Some experts have also maintained that these seemingly illogical rhymes were not intended for children at all, and that they are not nonsense.

1. Baa Baa Black Sheep: Feudal Taxes

Sheep, Baa Baa, Baa Baa (1916) Dorothy Miller is a woman who lives in the United States (Wikimedia Commons) I’m baa baa black sheep, and I’m wondering whether you have any wool. Yes, sir, yes, sir, three bags are completely full! a pair for the master and a pair for the dame However, there is none for the small kid who is crying down the path. (From the late 16th century, this was the final line.) Optional: a second one for the little boy who lives across the street. (Changes have been made to make it more child-friendly.) The first edition of Baa Baa Black Sheep was published in 1744.

At first, the “bags of wool” (or other agricultural output from the farmers) were given to the aristocrats, then to the church, and at last, there was hardly nothing left for the impoverished “small lad” (farmers).

2. Mary Mary Quite Contrary: A Cruel or Tragic Queen

Mary, Mary, Mary Quite the Opposite (1860) (Wikimedia Commons) Mary Mary, on the other hand, is rather opposite. How does your garden grow? With silver bells and cockle shells, to be precise. And a slew of attractive ladies all in a row Many historians believe that “Bloody Mary” Mary Tudor or Mary Stewart-Mary Queen of Scots is referred to by the title “Mary Mary,” which was also published in 1744. Mary Tudor was a devout Catholic, and her garden (which served as a graveyard) expanded in size during her reign from 1553 to 1558, as many protestants were beheaded for refusing to convert to Catholicism.

One interpretation of the rhyme’s “maids” (short for maiden) is that it refers to yet another moniker – either for another torture instrument or the guillotine.

The “beautiful maids” are actually Mary Stewart’s women in waiting, according to one view.

  • Fu Sheng, the one-eyed tyrant, ruled China for just a brief period of time and with great brutality. What evidence do you have that the Holy Grail was brought to North America by Spirit Pond Inscriptions? Pandora, the Goddess who unleashed both Hell and Hope onto humanity
  • Pandora, the Goddess who unleashed both Hell and Hope upon humanity

3. Goosey, Goosey, Gander: Religious Persecution/an Obligation to Pray

Gander, Gander, Goosey, Goosey, Gander (Mamalisa) Goosey, goosey, gander, whither hast thou gone, ye rogue? My lady’s chamber is located both above and downstairs. There, I saw an elderly gentleman who refused to say his prayers; I grabbed him by the left leg and tossed him down the stairwell. Goosey, Goosey, Gander is a children’s book that was first published in 1784 and makes reference to the Catholic persecution of the 16th century. Priest holes, which were little concealed places in people’s homes where they might worship, were popular at the period.

According to legend, the “left leg” in the poem refers to the moniker given to Catholics at the time, who were known as “left-leggers.” Alternatively, this poem may just be a warning from its author to listeners/readers to pray or else they would suffer the repercussions of their failure to do so.

4. Humpty Dumpty: A Heavy Person Or a Cannon

J. Tenniel’s story of Humpty Dumpty and Alice from Through the Looking Glass (Wikimedia Commons) While sitting on a wall, Humpty Dumpty fell to the ground, breaking his neck in the process. All of the King’s horses, as well as all of the King’s soldiers It was impossible to put Humpty back together! -OR- Threescore guys and threescore more, but I couldn’t put Humpty back where he belonged before. The story of Humpty Dumpty (first published in 1799) offers two different interpretations. A “Humpty Dumpty” is said to have been a term for an obese person that was popular in the fourteenth century, according to legend.

According to legend, the cannon “sat on a wall” of a church until it “had a huge fall,” after which it was brought down by opposing cannon fire and destroyed.

5. Jack and Jill – Liquid Measures and Beheaded Royalty

From J. Tenniel’s Through the Looking Glass, we have Humpty Dumpty and Alice (Wikimedia Commons) While sitting on a wall, Humpty Dumpty fell to the ground, breaking his neck in two pieces. There were all of the King’s horses and all of the King’s troops in attendance. No way was I going to reassemble Humpty! I couldn’t put Humpty where he belonged since he was threescore guys and threescore more. The story of Humpty Dumpty, which was first written in 1799, offers two different interpretations.

Humpty, according to the second origin for the rhyme, was the moniker given to a cannon used by the forces of King Charles I during the English Civil War to seize the town of Colchester.

It should also be noted that this rhyme, as well as others, have parallels in various European traditions.

  • J. Tenniel’s Humpty Dumpty and Alice from Through the Looking Glass (Wikimedia Commons) Humpty Dumpty was sitting on a wall when he had a spectacular fall. All of the King’s horses, as well as all of the King’s troops, were captured. I couldn’t put Humpty back together! -OR- Threescore guys and threescore more, but I couldn’t put Humpty back where he belonged. Humpty Dumpty (first published in 1799) can be read in two ways. A “Humpty Dumpty,” according to legend, was a nickname for an obese person in the fourteenth century. Humpty, according to the second version for the rhyme, was the nickname of a cannon used by the forces of King Charles I to conquer the town of Colchester during the English Civil War. When the gun was brought down by enemy cannon fire, it was said to have “sat on a wall” of a church until it “had a terrific fall.” Despite the efforts of “all the King’s soldiers,” “Humpty” the cannon was unable to be mended. It should also be noted that this rhyme, as well as others, have equivalents in various European civilizations.

6. Sing a Song of Sixpence – And Scare the King or Join the Pirates

Sing a Song of Sixpence (Sing a Song of Sixpence, 1890) (Wikimedia Commons) Sing a song of sixpence with a pocketful of rye in your pocket. A pie with four and twenty blackbirds cooked within. Oh, wasn’t that a delicate dish to lay before the king, when the pie was opened? It was lunchtime, and the king was busy counting out his money. The queen was in the salon, eating bread and honey. One day, as the maid was in the garden hanging out the laundry, a blackbird flew down and pecked off her nose.

This act has been chronicled, and certain cookbooks from the historical period had recipes for doing the procedure successfully.

It was rumored to be particularly popular among those enrolling for the famed pirate Blackbeard, among others.

This meant it was time to join the “Queen,” (also known as Blackbeard’s ship, the Queen’s Revenge), who was taking on supplies in port while “eating bread and honey.” The last two sentences are described as referring to the marine industry.

7. Ring Around the Rosie (Ring a Ring o’ Roses): A False Understanding?

Roses are arranged in a circle (1912) J. Willcox Smith is a fictional character created by author J. Willcox Smith (Wikimedia Commons) Ring a Ring O’ Roses, ring a Ring O’ Roses, Atishoo, you have a pocketful of posies! Atishoo! We are all thrown to the ground! In many circles, the origins ofRing a ring of Roses may be traced back to either the Black Death (1348) or the Great Plague (1665), respectively (thus the chanting of “a tishoo” and “we all fall down”). Due to the fact that plague symptoms manifest themselves as a red ring (ring of roses) and that bouquets of flowers were thought to provide protection (as was the popular belief at the period of the Great Plague), this association seems reasonable.

Scholars, on the other hand, believe that this correlation is very recent, and that there is no connection between any of the events and the rhyme at all.

They base their argument on the fact that the oldest known documentation of the rhyme dates back to 1881, which is significantly later than either pandemic. Many experts have questioned why it took so long to write it down if it was so well-known in the first place.

Meanings and Origins in Recent Interpretations?

Many of these rhymes may be the subject of a similar inquiry. Were they just handed on verbally in the beginnings as an additional sort of protection, with the messages contained inside the “nonsensical” rhymes as a type of disguise? This is a subject that is still up for dispute. To emphasize, the theories offered here are only a few of the more widely accepted interpretations of the origins and messages of these nursery rhymes that have been proposed over time. As time passes and lyrics are changed to appeal to newer audiences, it is unavoidable that views about the origins and meanings of the verses will shift as well.

  • The Jessie Willcox Smith Mother Goose (c.
  • Linda Alchin’s 2015 paper is cited as an example.
  • Fallon, Claire (2014) has a website that you may visit.
  • Available at:n.d.
  • (not available yet) (2015) Mary Tudor is the name of a historical figure who lived during the Tudor period.

n.a., 2015. 24 Terrifying, Thoughtful and Absurd Nursery Rhymes for Children.

n.d., 2015. Available at:n.d. A Pocket Full of Laughter. Wood, Jennifer M. (2015). Available at: Wood, Jennifer M. (2015). 11 Classic Nursery Rhymes Have Dark Origins, According to the author. You may find it at:

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