As prescribed by Paulina Constancia

Rhyme & Reason (3) – Ring a Ring o’ Roses

One of the joys of parenthood is reading and singing nursery rhymes. It makes you feel young again. If your day is not going so well and you see your child smile to that rhyme or tune, your mood changes and your troubles seem to just disappear.

This week I bring you “Rhyme & Reason”. I share with you the stories behind some of the most familiar nursery rhymes. However, a lot of them are not suitable for your little one. You might want to just keep the tale to yourself. 

Today we look into the nursery rhyme,”Ring a Ring o’ Roses”.
“Ring a Ring o’Roses”
Image Source
Common British versions include:
Ring-a-ring o’ roses,
A pocket full of posies,
A-tishoo! A-tishoo!
We all fall down.

Common American versions include:
Ring-a-round a rosie,
A pocket full of posies,
Ashes! Ashes!
We all fall down.

The last two lines are sometimes varied to:
Hush! Hush! Hush! Hush!
We’ve all tumbled down.
(Rhyme Versions-Info Source)

The Story Behind
Ring a Ring o’Roses

The rhyme has often been associated with the Great Plague which happened in England in 1665, or with earlier outbreaks of the Black Death in England. Interpreters of the rhyme before the Second World War make no mention of this; by 1951, however, it seems to have become well established as an explanation for the form of the rhyme that had become standard in the United Kingdom.

Peter and Iona Opie remark: “The invariable sneezing and falling down in modern English versions have given would-be origin finders the opportunity to say that the rhyme dates back to the Great Plague. A rosy rash, they allege, was a symptom of the plague, and posies of herbs were carried as protection and to ward off the smell of the disease. Sneezing or coughing was a final fatal symptom, and ‘all fall down’ was exactly what happened.” The line Ashes, Ashes in colonial versions of the rhyme is claimed to refer variously to cremation of the bodies, the burning of victims’ houses, or blackening of their skin, and the theory has been adapted to be applied to other versions of the rhyme. In its various forms, the interpretation has entered into popular culture and has been used elsewhere to make oblique reference to the plague.Info Source

Collecting the dead for burial during the Great Plague

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This entry was posted on October 9, 2012 by in Uncategorized.
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