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Origins: Ring around the Rosy / Rosey

DigiTrad:
JUMP ROPE CHANTS
THREE SIX NINE


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Subject: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: GUEST,genie
Date: 18 Jul 02 - 04:51 PM

Asked in another thread's topic so here is a new one. I would like to know where Ring Around The Rosey came from?


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: greg stephens
Date: 18 Jul 02 - 04:57 PM

Can we have a text to start with?The common English child's rhyme is
Ring a ring a roses
A pocket full of posies
Atishoo atishoo
We'll all fall down

With a falling on the ground game to go with it.How does yours go?


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: DMcG
Date: 18 Jul 02 - 05:02 PM

I've seen lots of explanations that it is based on the Black Death/Plague, and quite a lot saying this is rubbish! A verified history would be nice ....


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: GUEST,Willa
Date: 18 Jul 02 - 05:04 PM

And if that is the version you mean, it is said to refer to the plague "Atishoo atishoo We'll all fall down" being the symptoms and the result.The "pocket full of posies" would probably relate to the use of a pomander/nosegay of flowers, which was thought to be effective in warding off the germs.


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Jeanie
Date: 18 Jul 02 - 05:05 PM

The alternative version to the common English one has "Ring around the rosey" instead of "Ring a ring of roses" and "Ashes, ashes" instead of "atishoo, atishoo". I heard it sung like this by an (American) talking doll.

I'm sure there will be lots about the origin of this song on earlier threads. My understanding is that it is all about the Plague: The "ring of roses" is the rash; the "pocket full of posies" is the nosegays that people carried around with them to fend off the foul smell of people suffering from the plague, and "atishoo... we all fall down" - their dying. Good cheerful subject matter for a children's song (as is often the case !)

- jeanie


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: beadie
Date: 18 Jul 02 - 05:06 PM

The story I heard was that it originated as a rhyme sung by children during the time of the Black Death.

"Ring around the Rosey" referred to the characteristic marks and redness of the skin eruptions that appeared on victims of the Bubonic Plague.

The "pocket full of posies" was linked to the practice of always carrying flowers on one's person (frequently close to the face) as a means to cover the stench of the dead and dying.

"Ashes, Ashes" related to the fact that dead victims were burned rather than buried.

"All fall down" was a rather fatalistic view of where it would all end . . . presumably with everyoine falling down dead.


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: dorareever
Date: 18 Jul 02 - 05:08 PM

I guess it's about plague.Children songs are usually very gruesome so it really could be about that.


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 18 Jul 02 - 05:14 PM

Just posted a verse to Historical Childrens Songs, from North Carolina Folklore. The tune for that one is the German "Hoch soll er Leben." Also Gomme, 1898 date for an American version. Nothing useful yet.
Birthday song (small children and young ladies are neuter in German).

"Hoch soll er (sie, es) leben,
Hoch soll er leben,

dreimal hoch!

Er lebe hoch,
Er lebe hoch,
Er lebe dreimal hoch!


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 18 Jul 02 - 05:14 PM

Ashes were also thought to ward off the plague for a while... and so were carried around in the pockets...

At least that's what I read in one book on the Black Death

;-)


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: GUEST,Willa
Date: 18 Jul 02 - 05:20 PM

http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Forum/3041/rosie.html has a good item on the origin of the rhyme


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 18 Jul 02 - 05:48 PM

"Ring around a Rosy- a reference to rosary beads ??

A version from Lomax and Lomax, 1939 Southern States Collecting Trip, from Wiergate, Texas:

Ring around a rosey, pocket full o' posies,
Light bread, Sweet bread, Squat!
Guess who she told me, tralalalala,
Mister Red was her lover, tralalalala,
If you love him, hug him!
If you hate him, stomp!

(Sec. 13, Merryville, LA and vicinity)


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: greg stephens
Date: 18 Jul 02 - 05:50 PM

The standars explanation is nice, but only a conjecture. But I believe it. Why not? Until someone comes up with a better theory.No historycan tell you the answer. Nobody made a note of what they meant when they wrote it.(Mind you, the bit of paper might just be lurking in that old box in your attic?).
By the by, the Great Plague of 1665 seems a lot more likely to methan the Black Death of the Middle Ages. I cant really see a rhyme lasting in that form as long as that. And the verse structure seems subjectively to me to have more 1660 than 1360 about it. (Having said that, "Summer is icumen in" sounds dead modern but is definitely medieval).
Agreed, we need Masato or Malcolm Douglas to chase up the earliest known date first, before getting carried away.


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 18 Jul 02 - 06:01 PM

Greg's date of 17th Century is much more likely that the days of the Black Death.

Is there any trace of the rhyme before 1800? Here is where our English friends may come in with more information. The rhyme has also been related to smallpox epidemics, the ring around the rosy being application of make-up to cover up blemishes.
Somewhere in Google is a story with a tie-in to Shiva and Hindu mythology, but that one is too far-fetched to quote here.


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: GUEST
Date: 18 Jul 02 - 06:02 PM

The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes cites the earliest English language version as 1881. They note that 'would be origins finders' relate it to the Great Plague.


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 18 Jul 02 - 06:13 PM

There've been other threads chasing this up - one of them ended up leaving me pretty confident that the Plague/Black Death idea is Victorian historical romanticism, but I couldn't find that one.

However by now, whatever the origins, it has fairly well taken on those connotations from its use in protests against mass murder weapons research and so forth. Maybe that's more important than the strict facts about the origins of the rhyme. Another aspect of the folk process. If we need it, we make it.


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: GUEST
Date: 18 Jul 02 - 06:13 PM

See this page too


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: greg stephens
Date: 18 Jul 02 - 06:17 PM

My dictionary gives 16th century as first appearance of the word "posy"....so the rhyme presumably dates from after that.(though an earlier form without the roses/posies rhyme could be predate it of course). It could easily have existed unrecorded from 1680-1880....much longer definitely seems unlikely to me. I665 wasn't the last plague either, just the last Big One.


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: greg stephens
Date: 18 Jul 02 - 06:26 PM

I appreciate that the earliest recorded form of the rhyme doesnt have the "all fall down" stuff.But that does not have any particular value as evidence: it may iself have been a variant of an earlier form which did have "all fall down" or something similar.


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Mudlark
Date: 18 Jul 02 - 06:34 PM

And isn't it a creepy thing to hear, sung in a certain kind of singsong way....


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: greg stephens
Date: 18 Jul 02 - 06:55 PM

Mudlark's point reinforces McGrath's wonderfully. It may not have been creepy in 1800, and we'll probably never know. But is most certainly creepy now.


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 18 Jul 02 - 07:39 PM

Thanks, Guest, for the Mother Goose Society page.

A bit of a side issue: Most versions have the fall down or tumble down line. I quoted one from Louisiana, Lomax Coll., which has "squat." My wife, from Georgia, says it was always "squat" in her area. Is "squat" confined to the South or a part thereof, or is it more widespread?

Another thought. Has it ever been related to the burning of witches or heretics??


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 18 Jul 02 - 07:44 PM

British version A-tishoo! instead of Ashes! Suddenly it becomes obvious. It is a song about pollen allergy!


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 18 Jul 02 - 07:48 PM

No; it isn't old enough for that. It's quite easy to consult the Opie's Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes (available in all good libraries), and it's a constant puzzle to me why people rarely bother to do so, preferring instead to repeat long-discredited Old Wives' Tales. First printed in Britain in 1881, but apparantly known in Massachusetts around 1790; where it had none of the later accretions which people nowadays imagine to refer to the Black Death.


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: greg stephens
Date: 18 Jul 02 - 08:12 PM

Malcolm, you come down hard on lack of rigour in others concerning dates or origins of songs.On this occasion it is time to jump on you: you refer to "later accretions", ie lines which occur in an 1881 version but not in one from 1790. You know as well as I do that the fact that those lines do not appear in one version printed in 1790 has no bearing whatsover on whether they existed pre- 1790 or not.You may be right in your guess that they are later accretions, or you may be wrong. The fact that they don't appear in that 1790 version has no evidential weight one way or the other.
Say, by all means "In my opinion they are later accretions and my reasons are thus and thus". But you can't just state it as a fact. In my opinion, the 1790 and 1881 versions are from separate strands in the development of this rhyme, not two points along the same strand.

thus".


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: greg stephens
Date: 18 Jul 02 - 08:23 PM

I was a bit long-winded there.Put it more simply. Say I write out 3 verses of Dirty Old Town today, and Malcolm Douglas writes out the full four verse version tomorrow. According to his logic, his fourth verse would be a "later accretion". My position is that I would have forgotten the fourth verse.


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: GUEST
Date: 18 Jul 02 - 08:42 PM

Greg,

Your point is worth pursuing, and I've made a number of attempts to start threads discussing the issue.

All have been filled with crap, by people who prefer to 'hear/read' themselves (and their half-baked opinions) rather than doing a bit of basic research.

It's a complex question, certainly.

I would however imagine that the amount of nonsensical junk generated here is part of the reason that Malcolm prefers to discuss such question in more erudite company.


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: greg stephens
Date: 18 Jul 02 - 08:48 PM

GUEST your point is worth pursuing too, but the fact is that Malcolm is indeed discussing it here, you and I have just read his contribution.


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 18 Jul 02 - 09:09 PM

I'd certainly quarrel with Greg's argument (particularly the analogy!) though in essence it's a perfectly fair point, in answer to which I can only plead tiredness; I should have been more specific, and have paid for it now! Though a form of the rhyme is on record as having existed at the end of the 18th century, it appears at that time to have been a simple dancing game:
Ring a ring a rosie,
A bottle full of posie,
All the girls in our town,
Ring for little Josie
The Opies further comment
"The A-tishoo is notably absent here, as it is also in other versions [William Wells Newell, Games and Songs of American Children, 1883] gives, in which the players squat or stoop rather than fall down:

Round the ring of roses,
Pots full of posies,
The one who stoops last
Shall tell whom she loves best.

They go on to dismiss fairly comprehensively the "Black Death" myth, which appears to be a fanciful invention of the 20th century. I think I've quoted them on the subject here before, so there's no need to repeat it now. As I've said, the book is easily available. All of this doesn't prove, as Greg rightly points out, that sneezes and falling down did not occur in earlier versions; since, however, their first known appearance is of some 90 years after the first recorded forms of the rhyme, the balance of probability is that they are, as I said (though I should have suggested) later accretions. Whatever, there is no evidence of any kind that the rhyme is older than the 18th century, unless further material has been unearthed since the Opies wrote on the subject.


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: greg stephens
Date: 18 Jul 02 - 09:16 PM

I take all your points Malcolm, and you're quite probably right. But you can't tar all your opponents with the Black Death brush...Great Plague is surely more commonly quoted. Anyway, I'm sorry to say I was just having a go at you for fun, because you don't half jump on people with your hob-nailed boots for sloppy arguments; and I noticed a little chink in your formidable armour!


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 18 Jul 02 - 09:24 PM

And you were quite right to do that; I expressed myself poorly that time. It's Doc Martens though, not hob-nails...


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: greg stephens
Date: 18 Jul 02 - 09:28 PM

And I admit that my analogy was a little specious. Though rather neatly constructed, don't you think?


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 18 Jul 02 - 09:37 PM

Not unless Ewan was 150 years or so old by the time he died! %>)


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: greg stephens
Date: 18 Jul 02 - 09:41 PM

go to bed, your brain's addled, Malolm. I'm off to curl up and read some history books.


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 18 Jul 02 - 09:49 PM

Go for it. I'm for a beer and a spot of television, I think. Talk to you soon (Great Plague permitting).


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: masato sakurai
Date: 19 Jul 02 - 03:48 AM

There have been some sites on this rhyme, in addition to the links above.

(1) "Ring around the Rosie" Mini-FAQ

(2) "Ring around the Rosie" Variations
This is a comprehensive duscussion.
(3) The AFU and Urban Legend Archive: Misc -- ring around the rosie
As urban legend.

~Masato


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 19 Jul 02 - 04:05 AM

Here's another thought. I haven't read the Opie book (not everyone has access to a good library, Malcolm, nor time to visit one during operating hours!) It seems to me, though (please correct me if I'm wrong, as it's late and I'm sleepy) that the argument put forth above goes something like this:
(1) "Ring Around a Rosy" can be found in an early form, which does not include elements like ashes and falling down.
(2) Those elements (ashes, etc.) are the ones that suggest to some people a reference to plague (let's leave the precise century open for now)
(3)Therefore, "Ring Around a Rosy" has nothing to do with plague.

It seems to me, though, that this argument is flawed. Isn't it possible that there is another song/poem which did refer to the Great Plague (or another one), and which then later became conflated with "Ring Around a Rosy"? If this were the case, then there would be some validity to the position that the rhyme as it exists today does in fact refer to plague.

Does this makes any sense to the scholars? Or to anyone? Or should I just go back to the beach?

Aloha,
Mark


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: GUEST,Bagpuss
Date: 19 Jul 02 - 06:07 AM

When we were little, there was a second verse, sung while sitting on the floor after "all fall down":

Down at the bottom of the deep blue sea
Catching fishies for my tea
By a one, by a two by a three

At the count of three everyone stood up and lifted the smaller children playing into the air.

Is this just a local thing (NE England), or did others have this ending too? Anyone know where it comes from/what it means?

Bagpuss


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: greg stephens
Date: 19 Jul 02 - 06:17 AM

Undoubtedly one of the few relics left to us of the songs of the Atlantean civilisation.The 1,2,3 bit is certainly the date of the final destruction of Atlantis, possibly by the explosion of the volcanic island Santorini. Some have said the reference is to 123BC as the date of the explosion, but this seems unlikely as in 123 BC they didnt know it was 123BC as BC had not been invented. The most we can say with any certainty is that the explosion happened 123 years after(or possibly before) something or other else. Anything more would be conjecture at this stage.


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: GUEST,Bagpuss
Date: 19 Jul 02 - 06:57 AM

LOL Greg.

However the Santorini eruption occurred in 1645BC.

Not just a saggy old cloth cat....


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: greg stephens
Date: 19 Jul 02 - 07:02 AM

OK so the Atlanteans counted their years from 1768 BC


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: GUEST,Bagpuss
Date: 19 Jul 02 - 07:06 AM

I wonder what happened in 1768 BC that was so significant to them that they started counting years. Maybe one of them had a premonition that there would be a catastrophic eruption in 123 years time, so they had better start counting so they would know when to expect it.

Bagpuss


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: An Pluiméir Ceolmhar
Date: 19 Jul 02 - 07:07 AM

The article by Philip Hiscock (see Masato's third blue clicky) seems to make it an open-and-shut case (groan).


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: GUEST,Nerd
Date: 19 Jul 02 - 03:38 PM

The piece left out of the puzzle in the above posts is that the plague interpretation is itself not old. There is no old folk knowledge about a connection between the plague and this rhyme. The claim seems to have been made only in the mid twentieth century, if Philip Hiscock of memorial University Newfoundland is correct.

In the absence of any sort of old folk knowledge, we can reasonably ask what evidence the mid twentieth century originators of the plague idea had. First of all, the interpretation is based essentially on one variant instead of on the huge range of texts that exist. Second, it proposes meanings for some of the words (ashes referring to cremation, ring around the rosie referring to a rash on the cheek) which are clever but not compelling. Third, even if they were compelling, why a medieval plague and not a nineteenth century outbreak of some disease?

All this suggests to a folklorist (which I am) that the whole thing is a red herring. You have to assume that the one text being analyzed retained all the oldest features (for which there is no evidence), that this text contains cryptic refernces to disease (for which there is no evidence) and that this disease was a very old plague (for which there is no evidence). In the end, whether a folklorist believes a given interpretation or not is based on evidence, and there is just no evidence of any kind that this interpretation is correct, besides a clever correspondence between some meanings of some of the words and some of the features of some diseases.


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 19 Jul 02 - 05:35 PM

The plague of 1665, mentioned by Greg Stephens and others, reminded me that Samuel Pepys, who lived through this time, best known for his diaries, was a ballad collector. His collection of over 1800 was left to Magdalene College (See Firth, Introduction to "An American Garland").

The thorough explanation by Philip Hiscock should be saved because the topic will undoubtedly come up again. I can't bring up any old threads today, but titles suggest that the subject has come up several times before.
I am intrigued by a song title in the DT, "Ring-Around-The-Rosy Rag," and look forward to reading the lyrics when the DT-Forum is functioning again.


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Jul 02 - 07:42 PM

Dicho, Samuel Pepys's entire collection of broadside ballads, those in the 5 bound volumes, and the loose scattered sheets, may be found indexed in the broadside ballad index at www.erols.com/olsonw. The ballads in Firth's 'An American Garland' are also indexed there, as are all but a few unreprinted and unindexed collections in BL.


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: masato sakurai
Date: 19 Jul 02 - 09:24 PM

Another link:

(4) The "Real" Meaning of "Ring Around the Rosie"

The story of "Ring around the Rosie" and the Plague seems to be fairly widespread and diehard. A good number of websites contend or imply that there was a relationship (e.g., Black Death). Jack Maguire, in his Hopscotch, Hangman, Hot Potato, and Ha, Ha, Ha: A Rulebook of Children's Games (Prentice Hall, 1990, p. 4), reiterates this origin theory (of course, without evidence):
One of the grimmest stories of the origin of a game now called Ring-Around-the-Rosy. The first line of this verse, originally "Ring-a-ring o' roses," refers to the circular body rash that was an early symptom of the Great Plague of London, 1665. The healthy attempted to thwart the disease by carrying herbs ("A pocket full of posies"). In the final stages of the disease, the victim would start sneezing violently ("A-tishoo! A-Tishoo!," later corrupted to "ashes! Ashes!"). Death followed quickly ("We all fall down").

It would be interesting to discuss it from another point of view: "Why and how was the plague theory born in spite of nonexistence of evidence?".

~Masato


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Jul 02 - 09:32 PM

Masato, facts and evidence are irrelevant to true believers, and true believers always have the most votes. They call those who hold to facts or evidence heretics.


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Allan Dennehy
Date: 19 Jul 02 - 09:46 PM

Ring around the rosies As the light declines I remember Dublin city In the rare old times.

The Dubliners used to sing this , if I remember right. Im guessing that this song comes from the last century. The modern equivelant of the Black Death in Ireland up to 1950 was TB, by the way.


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: masato sakurai
Date: 19 Jul 02 - 09:57 PM

Still another:

(5) Urban Legends Reference Palges - Language (Ring Around the Rosie)

I myself like this kind of interpretation (that is, the plague theory), whether or not it is based on facts or evidence.

~Masato


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 19 Jul 02 - 10:19 PM

A-tishoo is noted in 1883, according to Opie. Two years earlier, Greenway had published Hush! Hush! Hush! Her writings were very popular in both the British Isles and North America and Hush! would be expected there as well. When was Ashes! first noted? You suggest that it is the corruption of A-tishoo, which is possible, but this shift would have more likely taken place in England.
The interpretation of the rose tree and the circle of players as a rash seems a difficult jump; it could have been stated by a popular author or editor of a widely circulated paper or magazine. (Wasn't there a tendency for Late Victorian-Edwardian authors to make illogical jumps like that?). It seems to me that the shift to ashes! from hush or a-tishoo is more likely a "guided" one than one evolved by children.

My (unsupported) suggestion is that there is an author or editor in the woodpile, and we might be able to identify him. Children certainly(?) did not evolve the plague theory.


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: GUEST,adavis@truman.edu
Date: 20 Jul 02 - 12:35 AM

Masato's got a good question. If we take the plague-origin-theory not as a historical proposition, but as folklore itself, then we can forget about whether it's accurate (a substantial wing of folklorists regard origins as never completely recoverable, therefore uninteresting. I never quite followed the "therefore" part). So the question becomes, "what's the attraction of believing this?" or "what function does it serve for those who tell it?" As a first guess, I'd venture that it's an antidote to the romantic view of children to imagine them cheerfully singing songs about something so horrible -- it reminds us that they have to cope with some pretty hhorrible stuff.

Best,

Adam


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Nerd
Date: 20 Jul 02 - 01:16 AM

Adam,

I agree with you and Masato, actually, that a very interesting question is "why would the plague theory develop without evidence." The answer, I think, has to do with how folklore has been defined and studied, and (in the end) involves your second point about origins and the folklorist.

"Folklore" (originally "folk-lore") was coined as a "good Saxon compound" to replace the term "Popular Antiquities." Antiquarians were interested in studying old stuff. Early theorists of folklore held that the truly important meanings were almost never known to the holder of the lore, but had to be ferreted out by the folklorist, because scraps of lore were really the detritus of Mythological or Historical materials that had been forgotten. Early folkorists thus had a vested interest in connecting any scrap of lore they collected to Mythology or history, the older the better. Of course, it's ironic that folklorists seeking origins essentially ended up constructing "creation myths" of their own!

This attitude has long been discarded by folklorists in academia, but there is still, I think, a fascination with old historical and mythological origins among laypeople who have read some of the classic conjectural works of folklore/myth scholarship, like Graves's The White Goddess and Frazier's The Golden Bough. It is a form of interpretation that has a sturdy tradition behind it, though it is mostly discarded by professionals today. I would guess you need look no further than the enthusiastic readers of books like those to find the source of the Plague interpretation.

As to why folklorists have largely given up studying origins as such, I think it's because the kind of work that developed out of origins-seeking, Historic-Geographic analysis, came to seem both fruitless and pretty boring. After a long, extremely laborious process, the folklorist would conclude "it appears my best guess is that the story of X originated in India in the 7th Century, though I may be wrong about this." To which most younger folklorists in the 1960s began to ask "so what?"

I agree that origins and conjecture can be interesting, but in the end if I'm going to believe any origin story, I need some evidence.


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Genie
Date: 20 Jul 02 - 05:06 AM

Very interesting thread, folks. Too sleepy to digest it now, but seems like there's a lot to mull over. I kind of like Mark C.'s hypothesis, but I'll have to check out all these links.


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 20 Jul 02 - 06:23 AM

Sorry to disappoint everyone, but "ring around the roses" is much older than any of the sources currently being quoted.
I have incontravertable evidence of this, from a primary source.
A man, who was "Born ten thousand years ago" claims he "Saw Peter Paul & Moses playing Ring Around The Roses"

I trust that this helps the situation

Nigel


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: masato sakurai
Date: 20 Jul 02 - 07:36 AM

Thanks, Nigel, I didn't notice that.

I was born about ten thousand years ago,
There ain't nothin' in this world that I don't know,
I saw Peter, Paul and Moses playin' ring around the roses
And I'll whip the guy that says it isn't so.
(John A. Lomax & Alan Lomax, Best Loved American Folk Songs, Grosset & Dunlop, 1947, p. 30, stanza 1)

It can't be "Peter, Paul and Mary", which doesn't rhyme, and I don't like to be whipped.

~Masato


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: GUEST
Date: 20 Jul 02 - 07:53 AM

See Nonsense Songs, Type A - Brags (i.e., lies), in the introduction to the the Scarce Songs 1 file at www.erols.com/olsonw, and click on 'Brags' in the table of contents to see several earlier songs of the same type.


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 23 Jul 02 - 03:35 PM

In loking for the origin of "Ashes," I found the rhyme in "Lavender's Blue, 1954, book of nursery rhymes, compiled by Kathleen Lyons and Harold Jones, Oxford Univ. but as:
Ring-a-ring o' roses,
A pocket full of posies,
A-tishoo, a-tishoo!
We all fall down.

No information yet on who started the plague interpretation.


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Snuffy
Date: 23 Jul 02 - 07:14 PM

Dicho - that's the version that is common in Britain. It's the only one I've ever heard or seen.


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 23 Jul 02 - 07:55 PM

Oh? Kate Greenway's Mother Goose (1881) said Hush! Hush! Hush! Hush! Has that one died out?
According to the linked websites, A-tischa could have come from Shropshire (1883). Also from England, Ashes! Ashes! - which is the one I would like to trace to its origin.


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Peter K (Fionn)
Date: 23 Jul 02 - 08:26 PM

It seems to me incontrovertible that the last two lines in Dicho's last post, if not all four, refer to some plague or pestilence. My own theory is that they were spawned/accreted or whatever in some relatively recent period when for some reason such a plague was a topic of conversation.

Mudcatters will recall how the Ken Burns film revived interest in the American Civil War, and how Di Caprio et al reawakened interest in the Titanic. Is there any way of researching whether a film about the black death might have been showing in New England around 1790?


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Peter K (Fionn)
Date: 23 Jul 02 - 08:29 PM

Well Dicho's penultimate post by the time I posted. Slow down, Dicho *G*


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 23 Jul 02 - 10:16 PM

But do you know of a book or article with the "Ashes, Ashes"? That is what I would like to find.
As Masato said, "How and why was the plague theory born in spite of the non-existence of evidence?" In other words, "Who done it?" Since it is late 19th or early 20th century, the culprit(s) should be identifiable.


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Nerd
Date: 24 Jul 02 - 01:22 AM

I don't think it's incontrovertible at all that "a-tishoo a-tishoo we all fall down" refers to a plague or pestilence. We are dealing with a play-party song (or a children's dancing song for English folks) where "all falling down" is just part of the game. You might as well say "you put your right foot in, you take your right foot out, you put your right foot in and you shake it all about" must be a song about epilepsy!

That's why the plague interpretation is so funny. It takes things that have perfectly easy meanings in that context ("ring around the rosy" or "ring a ring a roses" being an actual ring of children dancing around an actual or imagined rosebush), and gives them new meanings to suit a farfetched interpretation. The line with a-tishoo in it is just as likely to be a nonsense syllable as a sneeze--and anyway, sneezing isn't a symptom of the Black Death! Meanwhile, the things you'd expect to see in a song describing the plague are absent--The actual prominent symptom was not a rash on the cheek, but giant festering boils or buboes under the armpits and elsewhere. Of course, it'd be tough to rhyme that...


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: IanC
Date: 24 Jul 02 - 05:00 AM

I wonder how often people ask those who perform these things what they think the words mean. After all, it's the fact that people keep on doing certain things which is the reason that rhymes, songs etc. are traditional.

I played "ring a roses" (atishoo version) for years as a child, without any assumptions that it was anything other than a game with quite pretty words. Of course children are unlikely to know what they're doing. There's bound to be a meaning to these things that the fools who perform them can't possibly understand ...

By the way, we often seem to fall into simple dating traps like assuming prior printing to imply earlier versions of things. For folk activities, printing depends on collection. Something can go on for years and not be collected. It won't be printed. Doesn't mean that it's later than something that was printed centuries before. Concrete evidence can only ever give a latest date. It can't be used as evidence of an earliest date.

;-)
Ian


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: masato sakurai
Date: 29 Jul 02 - 05:07 AM

Earlier collectors and commentators alike (Newell, Gomme, Greenaway) didn't mention its connection with the plague at all. Henry Bett, in The Games of Children: Their Origin and History (1929; Singing Tree Press, 1968), says nothing of the plague:

"There cannot be much doubt that games like Buff and Dump and Ring-a-Ring-o'-Roses, in which a laugh or a sneeze is the climax, originated in this range of quaint notions as to the uncanny significance of laughing and sneezing, and the betrayal, or the danger, or the deliverance, which these things may indicate." (p. 98)

Although Urban Legend Reference Pages: Ring Around the Rosie says "[T]he first known mention of a plague interpretation of 'Ring Around the Rosie' didn't show up until James Leasor published The Plague and the Fire in 1961," the date seems to have been earlier, because the Opies apparently had tried to debunk the theory in The Dictionary (first published in 1951). Later in 1985, they devoted a few pages to this problem in The Singing Game (Oxford, pp. 220-227):

"This story [of its being a relic of the Great Plague of 1665] has obtained such circulation in recent years it can itself be said to be epidemic. Thus the mass-circulation Radio Times, 7 June 1973, gave it a double-page headline, to advertise a documentary programme on the plague-village of Eyam (although a 1909 guide book to Eyam does not mention the rhyme); lectures at medical schools have repeated it as fact both in Britain and America (men of science are notoriously incautious when pronouncing on material in disciplines other than their own); and we ourselves have had to listen so often to this interpretation we are reluctant to go out of the house. Those infected with the belief seem unperturbed that no reference to 'Ring a Ring o' Roses' appears in Pepys's careful record of hearsay during the long months of the Plague; or that Defoe's brilliant evocation in A Journal of the Plague Year does not indicate that either sneezing or redness of spots was on men's minds at that time; or that two recent studies, Philip Ziegler's The Black Death (1969) and Professor J.F.D. Shrewsbury's History of the Bubonic Plague in the British Isles (1970), give no support to the theory, unless, that is, Thomas Vincent's observation in God's Terrible Voice in the City, 1666, is thought relevant, that roses were then neglected, since 'People dare not offer them to their noses, lest with their sweet savour that which is infectious should be attracted." (p. 221)

Their conclusion is: "Thus in 'Ring a Ring o' Roses' we have, or so it seems, a spray from the great Continental tradition of May games, that preserves the memory, however faintly, of the rose as the flower of Cupid, the wreath of roses with which Aphrodite crowned her hair, the chaplet of roses that a lover presented to his lady or with which, if she spurned him--and he followed Ovid's advice--he adorned her gatepost, the emblem that passed naturally into the social ceremony of the Middle Ages as in Chaucer's The Romaunt of the Rose...." (p. 226)

~Masato


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 29 Jul 02 - 05:36 PM

I thought that perhaps I could find out when the the plague nonsense entered children's books at the Library. I received a bit of a shock. Books by Greenaway and Opie, Lavender's Blue and other standards of my children's days and mine are no longer on the shelves. The oldest collection of rhymes, songs and play rounds was newly assembled and copyright in 1987: Christine Allison, "I'll Tell You a Story" (but she didn't). Only about half-a-dozen had rhymes of Rosie; there were two with Ashes, Ashes and the rest were a-tischoo or similar (no squats).
One definitely stated the plague source: June Yolen's Mother Goose Songbook, 1992, Carleton House. The others had no comment.
I couldn't check the books for the smallest children; paperback and plastic, they were binned in no order and packaged in transparent bags for easy pick-up by parents; it would have taken too much time and earned me too many disaproving looks to have tried to go through them.
I remember when classics like Winnie the Pooh and the Beatrix Potter and Burgess stories were reprinted over and over. Now, they have either been rewritten by Disney authors or dropped altogether.


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: masato sakurai
Date: 30 Jul 02 - 12:02 PM

In 1962 William S. Baring-Gould & Ceil Baring-Gould wrote, in The Annotated Mother Goose (Bramhall House), as note to the Greenaway version of "Ring-a-ring-a-roses":

"As recently as November 1961, Mr. James Leasor was writing in his book The Plague and the Fire (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Co., Inc.) that this rhyme 'had its origin in the [Great Plague]. Rosey [roses] refers to the rosy rash of plague, ringed to signify the tokens; the posies were herbs and spices carried to sweeten the air; sneezing [the third line is often given as 'A-tishoo! A-tishoo!'] was a common symptom of those close to death.' And 'We're all tumbled down' was in a way exactly what happened. "This is an interesting theory, but 'If you consult The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes' (as Charles Poore noted in his New York Times review of The Plague and the Fire), 'you will find, in place of corroboration, the somewhat frosty notation that: "The invariable sneezing and falling down in modern versions has given would-be origin-finders the opportunity to say that the rhyme dates back to the days of the Great Plague."' Actually--surprising in a rhyme that has become the accompaniment to one of our most popular nursery games--'Ring-a-ring-a-roses' first appeared in print as late as 1881, Kate Greenaway's Mother Goose." (p. 252)

Lina Eckenstein, Comparative Studies in Nursery Rhymes (Duckworth, 1906) did not discuss or mention the rhyme, while Gloria T. Delamar's comment in her Mother Goose: From Nursery to Literature (McFarland, 1987, pp. 38-40) is based on the Opies (quoted almost verbatim HERE). Lucy Rollin (Cradle and All: A Cultural and Psychoanalytic Study of Nursery Rhymes, University Press of Mississippi, 1992) doesn't say anything on the rhyme.

Kate Greenaway's Mother Goose has been reprinted lots of times (my copy is the 1985 Chancellor Press edition). Her manuscript sketchbooks (now in the New York Public Library) was published as Kate Greenaway's Mother Goose or Old Nursery Rhymes: The Complete Facsimile Sketchbooks (New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1988); "Ring a Ring a Roses" is on p. 61.

~Masato


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Declan
Date: 31 Jul 02 - 10:53 AM

Allan Denehy,

"Dublin City in the rare old times" was written by Pete St John some time in the last thirty years and is a nostalgic look back at Dublin in the 1930s and 40s when a number of theatres and cinemas mentioned in the song were still open in Dublin - "The pillar and the Met have gone, the Royal long since pulled down". The Met was the Metropole Cinema in O Connell Street which was still there in at least the early 1970s (When it was replaced by a horrible British Home Stores building).

Incidentally the line in Pete's song is Ring-a-ring-a-rosie which is how I learned this rhyme in the (very) early sixties in Dublin.

Total thread creep but I met a lot of people who lived in Dublin "in the rare oul' times" who don't look back on it with much nostalgia. Life was pretty tough for most people here in those days.


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: GUEST,Ewan McVicar
Date: 31 Jul 02 - 05:06 PM

Very interesting thread. Startled that paperback reference books like the Opies are not on the shelf of everyone who chats in Mudcat. I often think of the remark about being afraid to walk out of their door for fear of someone else pressing the Black Death notion on them. Mind you, there are other hidden Black Death references in our songs - Black Is The Colour Of My True Love's Hair, in which 'hair' was formerly 'face' - the ballad 'What did I do to be so black ond blue?' - and of course Orchy Chorni!


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: GUEST,misspriss137@hotmail.com
Date: 11 Sep 02 - 03:31 PM

I wanted to know about the history of Ring Around the Rosey? Where it came from? Who wrote it? And anything else there is to know about it. Thank You. Jennifer


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 11 Sep 02 - 07:53 PM

Which is exactly where we came in, back in July. Read this discussion, Jennifer, and you'll have all the information we are able to give. But don't believe all of it...


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: GUEST,Lydia
Date: 22 Oct 02 - 12:58 AM

There is a web site that I found because I heard of this rhyme was also caused by the Black Death.

The site I found was: www.fascinatingearth.com
It tells a little of the history, whether it is true or not I am still not sure.

www.fascinatingearth.com


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: banjoman
Date: 22 Oct 02 - 06:31 AM

This children's nursery song originated in the village of Eyam in Derbyshire during the time of the great plague, when the local elders virtually sealed of the village to prevent the disease spreading to Eyam. The ring of roses refers to the characteristic marks on the faces of plague victims, and the falling down after sneezing to the initial symptons of a @fle like condition. The village still exists and is well worth a visit. The game is still played there by local children tho' I doubt many know of its sinistre origins.


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Nerd
Date: 22 Oct 02 - 04:59 PM

banjoman, did you not bother to read the rest of this thread? The Eyam history was clearly made up at a time later than 1909, when the guidebook to Eyam made no reference to the rhyme. There is no good evidence that this rhyme has anything to do with the plague, or with Eyam. To ask who wrote it is a bit silly, since as with most folk rhymes the origin is unknown. But it is unlikely to be as old as 1665.

PLEASE, read threads before posting to them!


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: GUEST,help
Date: 22 Oct 02 - 05:02 PM

whats the name of the song with the line "ill take the high road" or whatever


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Oct 02 - 05:39 PM

Anyone who read the threads know that the black death got attached to the nursery rhyme sometime after 1900, probably after 1930. People still insist on taking the word of unsubstantiated websites.

Guest Help, here we go. "Ill take the high road," is from the medieval song "Banks of Loch Lomond," which means that the ill are taking the high road to Heaven. Tosspots take the "low road" because they are on the low road to Hell. The "Banks of Loch Lomond" is an ancient Scottish appelation for Purgatory. Centuries later, some semi-literate Scot tried to make a song of parting out of it, but he was too drunk at the time to make sense and only succeeded in obscuring the Biblical warnings implicit in the original words, now partly lost.


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: DMcG
Date: 23 Oct 02 - 07:16 AM

You forgot to mention that the medieval song "Banks of Loch Lomond" was originally Irish. There is some evidence, although not fully substantiated, that it was originally written for a lost instrument called the Bán Jo.


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: banjoman
Date: 24 Oct 02 - 07:37 AM

NERD - I kno0w the village of Eyam pretty well and the surrounding area. The ridiculing of the "Eyam Link" was directly as a result of certain so called knowleagable historians who could not accept that such a song could have emanated form one of the remotest parts of the country and so began the discussion. Yes I do read thro' the threads before considering making a contribution which is more than can be said for some of the piffle that is posted from some. Incidentally you may wish to know that the pocket full of "roses" not "Posies" as in some versions, refers to the bunches of rose petals carried to ward of the smell of decay


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 24 Oct 02 - 07:53 AM

There is, however, no evidence at all that this interpretation of the rhyme is anything other than 20th century mythology; unless perhaps you can quote us some of which the Opies were unaware? A documented tradition of the use of the rhyme in Eyam, perhaps, pre-dating its appearances in print as detailed above? What is the earliest date at which it can be demonstrated unequivocally that the rhyme was known in Eyam? What is the earliest date at which it can be demonstrated unequivocally that the rhyme was considered in Eyam to be connected to the Plague?


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Bagpuss
Date: 24 Oct 02 - 08:01 AM

A bit off topic I know, but some researchers now believe that the Black Death was caused by bubonic plague at all, but by a virus similar to Ebola. This Article also mentions that there might be a link between survivors of the black death and resistance to HIV infection.

Bagpuss


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Nerd
Date: 24 Oct 02 - 05:20 PM

Banjoman,

It sounds far more likely to me that a remote area like Eyam takes the rhyme as a point of pride and therefore perpetuates the myth, than that historians have a hard time believing that Eyam could be the source of a nursery rhyme. There are two reasons for this:

1) historians don't care who originated nursery rhymes, because they don't care about nursery rhymes at all. No hoity-toity historian will waste his or her time making detailed arguments on points like this.

2) The only historians who DO care about nursery rhymes, social historians, are precisely the ones committed to the idea that remote and low-status areas of the country DO have historical importance.

A third point:

3) folklorists, who are the most interested in Nursery Rhymes, would LOVE to be able to argue that this one came from a remote village hundreds of years ago.

But pretty much every scholar in every discipline has rejected the plague explanation, regardless of their academic ideology, because there is NO EVIDENCE FOR IT beyond the word of a few people in the late 20th century. No evidence from the 1600s, No evidence from the 1700s, NO evidence from the 1800s, NO evidence until the 1950s or thereabouts--and even then, the "evidence" is just a claim.

Finally, a guidebook to Eyam in 1909 dos not mention the rhyme, which suggests rather strongly that no one in Eyam at the time thought the rhyme was associated with the plague or the town either; otherwise why wouldn't they include this remarkable cultural legacy of their town in the book?

Sorry, Banjoman, none of it washes....

As Malcolm says, find some evidence, not just more assertions.


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: GUEST,Bman
Date: 24 Oct 02 - 09:19 PM

Thanks, y'all, for a fine thread. Thoroughly enjoyed it. regards, Bman


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 24 Oct 02 - 09:37 PM

As they say, it ain't over 'til it's over. I expect more to show up. We need someone to blame and send to the stake for inventing the plague tail (er tale). Probably a nice little old lady from Brooklyn or Wode-Upon-Wiggle who had a children's radio program.


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Nerd
Date: 25 Oct 02 - 12:16 PM

Guest Q,

No need to blame anyone. One of the nice things about this kind of claim is that it is itself folklore; it is folklore about folklore, which folklorists have called "metafolklore" and "oral literary criticism."

People become very attached to claims like this, partly because of personal or local connections (eg. Eyam), and partly because there is just something fulfilling about the thought that such a common nursery rhyme is so old and so connected to historical events of great importance. But why blame anyone? Every single one of us is probably personally attached to at least one proposition that happens to be wrong. This mistake is no worse than many of mine!


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 25 Oct 02 - 12:50 PM

Nerd, I have, on occasion been accused of invented a story myself. All lies, of course.


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Nerd
Date: 25 Oct 02 - 01:00 PM

Q,

this could spiral down into that age-old paradox:

"This statement is a lie!"

figure that one out :-)


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Shields Folk
Date: 25 Oct 02 - 01:24 PM

Heres a version popular around Sellafield Cumbria:

Ring a ring of protons
A pocket full of neutrons
A fision a fusion
We'll all fall down


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: masato sakurai
Date: 14 Nov 02 - 09:05 AM

From the lyrics of "The Sidewalks of New York" (Click here for the 1894 sheet music; also in the DT):

cho: East side, west side, all around the town,
The tots sang "ring-a-rosie," "London Bridge is falling down."
Boys and girls together, me and Mamie O'Rourke
Tripped the light fantastic
On the sidewalks of New York.

~Masato


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Subject: RE: May Games, Rose, and Betley Window
From: Hester
Date: 14 Nov 02 - 05:43 PM

Someone mentioned meta-folklore -- and yes, pieces of folk custom with obscure origins do tend to generate their own aetiological myths.

Here's a case in point. Masato quoted [if I'm following his citations correctly] the Opies in _The Singing Game_ (1985)

>>>Their conclusion is: "Thus in 'Ring a Ring o' Roses' we have, or so it seems, a spray from the great Continental tradition of May games, that preserves the memory, however faintly, of the rose as the flower of Cupid, the wreath of roses with which Aphrodite crowned her hair, the chaplet of roses that a lover presented to his lady or with which, if she spurned him--and he followed Ovid's advice--he adorned her gatepost, the emblem that passed naturally into the social ceremony of the Middle Ages as in Chaucer's The Romaunt of the Rose...." (p. 226)<<<

So, the Opies have just finished "debunking" the Great Plague theory, but they replace it with their own aetiological speculations, which, to be judgemental, seem even more romantic and implausible.

The May Games are a particular interest of mine, since I like to believe that all things folkloric revolve around Robin Hood. Well, the May Games had definitely had nothing to do with Cupid or Aphrodite (that's just classical allegory being churned out from the minds of the Opies themselves).   However, the May Queen did wear a chaplet of flowers [at least in 19th century May Day revivals]. The flower most clearly associated with May Day however, was not the rose, but the hawthorn (i.e. the mayflower). May Games involved much of the same imagery as May Day, but seemed to taken place generally a bit later, around Whitsun, and thus sometimes even into June, when the rose may have in fact been in bloom.

And we might perhaps see a parallel between the ring dance of the rhyme and the Morris, which had definitely become part of May Game celebrations by 1559 [David Wiles, _Early Plays of Robin Hood_, 1981, p. 5-6). The mid-15 century stained glass window at Betley depicts Morris Dancers around a Maypole. And, indeed the "Lady" (often identified with Maid Marian) holds a rose in her hand.

However, a rose does not appear to have been a key aspect of the Morris and does not figure in any textual descriptions of the dance from the 15th and 16th centuries, when the May Games were celebrated. Nor does a rose appear in the 19th century Morris Dances recorded by Sharpe.

So, if we have a link between the May Games and Ring around the Rosie, it is one that involves a 300-year gap in the continuum, with the Betley window as the only piece of corroboratory evidence (that I'm aware of) for even this spurious association.

Cheers, Hester


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 14 Nov 02 - 06:16 PM

The 1790 date for the American version rests on a claim by Newell. There does not seem to be any support for his claim. Or is there? I think it is just anotherspeculation, like all the nonsense about the "Drinking Gourd."

The song may be the result of the May Day revivals (the maypole was also revived in American schools) mentioned by Hester. It would not be difficult to write a scholarly paper supporting that origin. There! A Master's thesis topic for a college student.


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: rea
Date: 14 Nov 02 - 06:26 PM

Thanks Masato!!!!!

I was going to refrence the same article - I just didn't know it was on the web. Read it when it was published on (gasp!) paper in 1997.

So people have already put in buckets of pennies to make up my 2 cents. oh, well...


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Hester
Date: 14 Nov 02 - 07:20 PM

My apologies, the Betley window is (at best estimates) mid-16th, not 15th century.

Thanks for mentioning that May Day also had a revival in America, Q. I didn't realize that. (Was this also in the 19th century?)

I'm afraid your hypothetical college student wouldn't get too far with that thesis topic, though, unless the maypoles used in the American revival were somehow associated with roses.

Cheers, Hester


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Hester
Date: 14 Nov 02 - 07:23 PM

... my point from the previous post being that 19th century American school children and their revivalist teachers would be unlikely to have been aware of the Betley window and the association in its imagery of the maypole and the rose.

Cheers, Hester


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 14 Nov 02 - 07:49 PM

With respect, Hester, you seem to have mistaken a vague generalisation from the Opies as some kind of statement of fact. The bulk of their work was done 50 years ago, of course. The question to consider now would perhaps be whether or not any subsequent, verifiable research has turned up any new information. Even if roses made an appearance in recorded instances of ceremonial dance, that is not evidence of any connection with the nursery rhyme.


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 14 Nov 02 - 08:45 PM

But the Maypole is American, isn't it? At least they took it over and made it big (he, he, he!). The 17th century New England Puritan, William Bradford complained that the Maypole was danced to "wanton ditties." And the modern Maypole was invented by John Tiller ca. 1900 (later famous for the Rockettes of New York). Look at these children winding the Maypole (mostly in Kansas). Maypole .If you click on the Maypole stereoview from England, notice the roses at the top of the Maypoles. There were always roses atop the American Maypole as well. The English tradition in America probably was reinforced by immigrant German colonies (a large one came to central Texas in the 1850s). The Maypole practice in America apparently was continuous from the 17th century to the present.
The Maypole dance was a central feature of May Day celebrations at the famous (in America, anyway) old Davenpost Hotel, Spokane, Washington (recently renewed to its former splendor. Go to WWW.thedavenporthotel.com and work through this interesting site. Note the flowers at the top of the post.
At Trinity College, Washington, DC, the Maypole dance is always a feature of Founders Day, beginning in 1901. Nowadays, they "top off" by welding the last beam in place (must be gargantuan).
Here is one at an American hospital for the insane, 1897 Maypole insanity

In Latin America, the Maypole Dance associated with the "Moros" and performed since the 16th century or earlier is dying out. I remember one performed near Santa Fe, New Mexico about 1933 when I was ten and the Matachines may still perform in some of the more traditional villages in Mexico-New Mexico. I heard the last one died out in Guatemala. The tradition is still carried on at Pascua Village, Tucson, Arizona, by the Yaqui Indians. Yaqui Maypole


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 14 Nov 02 - 08:50 PM

If the maypole performances have anything to so with ring-around the rosey, I haven't the vaguest idea. I think I am just adding to the confusion.


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 14 Nov 02 - 08:57 PM

They almost certainly have nothing whatever to do with it; and yes, you probably are just adding to the confusion. Nevertheless, what you say is interesting; so it was worth saying.


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Hester
Date: 14 Nov 02 - 09:29 PM

>>>With respect, Hester, you seem to have mistaken a vague generalisation from the Opies as some kind of statement of fact.<<<

With RESPECT, Malcolm, you have misread my post entirely. I have argued AGAINST the Opies' "vague" generalization, not accepted it as fact.

>>>Even if roses made an appearance in recorded instances of ceremonial dance, that is not evidence of any connection with the nursery rhyme. <<<

Which, precisely, IS my point. Re-read my original post Malcolm, but this time without letting your assumptions about me get in the way of your comprehension.

Sigh, Hester


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Hester
Date: 14 Nov 02 - 09:45 PM

Hi, Q:

Thanks for that historical background on the Maypole in American. I don't think you are adding to the confusion at all. Additional information can only help clarify the topic. I definitely see flowers atop the maypoles in your pics and agree that this was a feature of early British and European poles as well. However, from what I remember of my background reading on the topic, these adornments were traditionally of flowers and greenery in general, not limited to roses, and with the rose in particular having no special significance above the other types of flowers used. Indeed, I recall no specific references to "roses" in the texts I have read describing early maypoles.

Cheers, Hester


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 14 Nov 02 - 11:09 PM

"Roses....no special significance." I agree entirely, I was mainly trying to show that May Day has long featured the Maypole in America. Roses were often used because there are many early varieties and they are colorful and large. Whatever significance the custom had, it was just a case of "The flowers that bloom in the Spring, Tra-la," the love of the good weather and a chance to get together to celebrate and have outdoor picnics and all that. Organizers of May Day had to have a theme, and something for people to participate in. The observance might become ritualized, but no one worried about significance.


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 16 Nov 02 - 05:16 PM

We've had a reference to Pete St John's Rare Old Times, which quotes the children's song that this thread is about. Here is a related thread about an earlier another song that does the same - East Side, West Side. And I'm sure some version of that must have been in Pete St John's mind when he wrote the Dublin song.


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: greg stephens
Date: 16 Nov 02 - 05:53 PM

This threed is fascinating reading, the confusion of evidence, supposition and prejudice that occurs with most folklore discussion: always a problem when discussing things which by their nature dont tend to be documented till well after their creation(evolution). The thing that bedvils this particular discussion is the idea that a new or recent theory must be wrong because of its newness. This is presumably a leakage from the folky part of some peoples brains into the scientific part. Some sort of subconscious feeling " I prefer old songs, so perhaps I shouldn't like new ideas". Probably many contributors, of whom Malolm Douglas is the obvious example, have no particular objection to Newton nailing gravity in the 1600's, even though gravity had been knocking around for a good while before he explained it. So why should anybody be hostile to a theory just because it can only dated to the 20th century. It may be wrong, it may be right, but its newness is no argument against it. That can be settled by evidence, or in the absence of evidence it can be left as an intriguing idea.
What is interesting is the active hostility of certain posters, purely, as far as I can see, beacuse it is new.


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Hester
Date: 16 Nov 02 - 07:45 PM

Masato mentioned the village of Eyam. If anyone's interested, there is a recent novel based on the plague outbreak in Eyam in the 17th century:

Year of Wonders, by Geraldine Brooks

Cheers, Hester


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: toadfrog
Date: 16 Nov 02 - 08:25 PM

Greg: You may be right, but I can't really tell what it is you are saying. I think the objection to the "plague" theory is not that it is new, but that there is no evidence to support it. No one has yet pointed to such evidence. It sure does sound like an urban legend. That is, it seems to tell one more about the people who propound it than about the subjet nursery rhyme. Like Malcom, I see no particular advantage in preserving urban legends.

1. Do I misunderstand you? Are you saying the "plague" theory is "intriguing"? If so, why?
2. Am I wrong?
3. If the answer to (2) is other than unconditional negagive, why?


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: GUEST,adavis@truman.edu
Date: 16 Nov 02 - 08:46 PM

Just started Norman Cantor's book on the Plague, and he blithely tosses out the Ring-Around-the-Rosy thing on page 1. He's a good scholar, and ought to know better. Has anybody mentioned that the bubonic plague isn't characterized by rosy spots, ringed or otherwise? But there are these really memorable grapefruit-sized swellings in the armpits, neck and groin that turn black, burst and discharge gangrenous gook. That's just before the end. You'd think the kiddiwids might've noticed THAT if they were of a mind to work up a little ditty on the subject...


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: greg stephens
Date: 16 Nov 02 - 09:03 PM

Toadfrog what i was trying to say (and not putting it very well) is that the age of the theory has no relevance to whether it is true or not.Whether it was first suggested in 1720 or 1920 doesnt matter. I think in this(and in other threads I have seen) people get confused between discussing evidence, and other irrelvant points. I dont think the theory is true, neither do I think it's false. It's plausible, and it's intersting, and it's amusing. It could have been perfectly true in 1666, but nobody wrote it down at the time, and then the explanation wasnt thought of for 300 years.
   But I entirely agree nobody is entitled to quote it as a fact.
Take an example:
The Rat the Cat and Lovell the Dog
Ruled all England under a Hog.
Now we know what that means, and people have always known what it means becaues it was documented at the time. But say somebody found it for the first time in a manuscript now, or heard somebody say it.. Some clever person would eventually figure out what it meant. And in no time Mudcatters would be attacking the theory of its meaning, because it was a recent explanation.


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: masato sakurai
Date: 16 Nov 02 - 09:39 PM

It is always difficult or often impossible to document what never happened or existed.
~Masato


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 16 Nov 02 - 10:00 PM

"I see no particular advantage in preserving urban legends."



Urban legends are very vibrant aspect of current folklore. And they reflect real patterns of fears and of social preoccupations.

Surely the point here isn't that the link between the song and the plague is recent, but that the evidence so far isn't there. And it seems highly unlikely that the kind of evidence that would be required is going to turn up, because it's the kind if stuff that gets recorded. It could of course - some diary or letter in which someone talked about listening to some children playing, or a sermon about the fragility of life in face of the plague, quoting the rhyme... But nothing has turned up so far.

Until and unless it does, it's pure speculation, based on a sense of what sounds right poetically, which doesn't mean it might not be true, but certainly doesn't mean it is true either.

However, as has been mentioned, this suggestion has become current to such an extent that it colours how we hear the rhyme nowadays. I suppose that's what calling it an urban legend means. And as an urban legend, or something analogous to that, it has its own enduring strength, irrespective of whether it actually coincides with historical truth.

It rings a bell with us, because we are aware of the sense in which children playing are playing in the imagined presence of death and devastation. And that is an echo of the century we have gone through, with its wars and genocide, and the nuclear threat hanging over us - and it continues, changing, but never letting up. So the song has somehow come to relate to our own Plague time.


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 16 Nov 02 - 10:02 PM

"I see no particular advantage in preserving urban legends."

Urban legends are very vibrant aspect of current folklore. And they reflect real patterns of fears and of social preoccupations.

Surely the point here isn't that the link between the song and the plague is recent, but that the evidence so far isn't there. And it seems highly unlikely that the kind of evidence that would be required is going to turn up, because it's not the kind of stuff that gets recorded. It could, of course, justvpossibly - some diary or letter in which someone talked about listening to some children playing, or a sermon about the fragility of life in face of the plague, quoting the rhyme... But nothing has turned up so far.

Until and unless it does, it's pure speculation, based on a sense of what sounds right poetically, which doesn't mean it might not be true, but certainly doesn't mean it is true either.

However, as has been mentioned, this suggestion has become current to such an extent that it colours how we hear the rhyme nowadays. I suppose that's what calling it an urban legend means. And as an urban legend, or something analogous to that, it has its own enduring strength, irrespective of whether it actually coincides with historical truth.

It rings a bell with us, because we are aware of the sense in which children playing are playing in the imagined presence of death and devastation. And that is an echo of the century we have gone through, with its wars and genocide, and the nuclear threat hanging over us - and it continues, changing, but never letting up. So the song has somehow come to relate to our own Plague time.


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 16 Nov 02 - 10:31 PM

Found in a manuscript? Mss. can be dated by paper, inks, and provenance- not closely, but the gap here would be from the 17th to the 19th century at the least. The 1790 American date is suspect.
Now I have some interesting new interpretations:

Story of an ancient Paul Revere. Through the folk process his exploit has been condensed into one night. He dallied with the queen in the hanging gardens and had to make a getaway because the king discovered him.

How many miles to Babylon?
Threescore miles and ten.
Can I get there by candlelight?
Yes, and back again.
If your heels are nimble and light,
You may get there by candlelight.

This one is certainly dates from about 50AD. The apostles are leaving to spread the gospels, and the crys by early Christians, "Will ye no come back again?" are heard throughout the land.
A graffito of a fly in flight on a Judean wall is evidence of the antiquity of this little plea.

Fly away, Peter!
Fly away, Paul!
Come back Peter,
Come back Paul.


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: lady penelope
Date: 17 Nov 02 - 11:53 AM

It seems we've come to what I call the "English literature exam question" problem. For example, a question in an English exam will quite commonly start along these lines...

"What did Shakespear mean when Mark Anthony declares "There is beggery in the love that can be reckoned...." ?"

I always had a problem with these questions, because there is no real way I can find out what Shakespeare meant by anything he wrote. He's been dead 400 years.

I can make a lot of educated guesses, but when you get to the nitty gritty, no one will ever know what he meant for sure.

Similarly, regardless of any evidence for or against "Ring a ring o' roses" being linked to the "Great plague" we will never be able to nail down when the rhyme even appeared let alone if it was actually connected to any event in history.

I say, either keep an open mind or agree to differ. We can't do much about it either way. : )

TTFN M'Lady P.


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: GUEST,adavis@truman.edu
Date: 17 Nov 02 - 12:18 PM

Lady Penelope's view is clearly reasonable, especially on questions like this one, where we've been over the ground pretty thoroughly. But I sometimes see that gesture used for hidden purposes in argumentation (which, in my field, is how we find things out as well as just plain fun). It may be used to avoid conceding defeat where there's a very important point of fact at stake (extreme example: holocaust deniers; doesn't apply here). Or it may cut off a discussion where the true/not true issue isn't going to be brought to conclusion, but a preponderance-of-evidence decision is possible. And argument of this type is how we learn rules of evidence anyway (Ong wrote that up until the twentieth century, advanced study in just about every subject consisted of arguing).


Adam


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 17 Nov 02 - 12:22 PM

"One that promist naught but beggary, and poore lookes" (Shakespeare).
Beggary means extreme poverty, lack of content. In the other statement, Marc meant that love that can be circumscribed doesn't mean much. Perfectly (in the current sense of completely) understandable!
(Just sign me Teach)


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: lady penelope
Date: 17 Nov 02 - 12:29 PM

So you've met Shakespear and asked him about this, eh Q ?

The argument, in general, on this thread had started to go round in circles. Contradiction is not argument, there seemed to be no further progression or introduction of new points. If that rocks your world Adam, have a nice day.

Lady P.


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: GUEST,adavis@truman.edu
Date: 17 Nov 02 - 03:44 PM

No disagreement with you, Lady P, just a reflection on how agree-to-disagree is used in other topics, for other purposes. The point was about argumentation, not about the argument at hand. And I wish you a nice day in return.


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 17 Nov 02 - 04:01 PM

"There is beggery in the love that can be reckoned...."

I'd say his handwriting let him down again, and what he actually wrote was

"There is bugger all in the love that can be reckoned...."


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 17 Nov 02 - 04:45 PM

Oh, my yes, Lady Penelope, we played shove ha'penny in many a tavern. "I wuz borned 'bout ten thousand yars ago!"
(Wasn't that said earlier by someone in this thread?) Yes, not much more to be said unless something new turns up.


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: GUEST,jonilog
Date: 18 Nov 02 - 05:53 AM

The version of the rhyme common in Motherwell, Scotland was:
Ring a ring a Roses a cup a cup o' shell
The dogs away tae Hamilton tae buy a new bell
If ye cannae tak it I'll tak it tae mysel
A ring a ring a rosies a cup a cup o' shell

Don't ask me what it means ,I haven't a clue either. Its also the version my wife remembers from her childhood. We probably never heard the well known version till the introduction of television in the fifties.


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Declan
Date: 18 Nov 02 - 10:59 AM

Lady P,

Surely thats what ring a ring a rosie is all about. Going around in circles until we all fall down !


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 18 Nov 02 - 12:21 PM

jonilog, only thing I can think of are the left over shells of peas, husks or some such. Shells of clams, etc.? Of course childrens rhymes needn't make sense, only rhyme.
Any more variations out there waiting to be collected?


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: masato sakurai
Date: 28 Jan 03 - 07:24 AM

This song (of course, only a part of it) seems to be based on the rhyme (from the Levy collection):

Title: I'll Make a Ring Around Rosie. Song.
Composer, Lyricist, Arranger: Words by William Jerome. Music by Jean Schwartz.
Jean Schwartz Publication: New York: Jerome H. Remick & Co., 1910.
Form of Composition: strophic with chorus
Instrumentation: piano and voice
First Line: Rosie, Rosie, she thinks a lot of me
First Line of Chorus: I'll make a ring around Rosie, I'll make a ring around Rose


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: GUEST,Mad cow
Date: 02 Mar 04 - 01:05 AM

ITS THE PLAGUE!!!

actually its all bilbo baggins fault.
He was trying to write a song for his dear daughter, for he could not fathom why she was so bright with little spots.
He was sure surprised by his eyes when she dropped.

There, Case closed.


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: GUEST
Date: 03 Jul 04 - 07:29 PM

If you all would really like to know where Ring Around the Rosey" comes from, it comes from around the WW2 era. The Jewish kids would sing it around the ashes of their dead kin folk that had been burned and gased... are you all happy now? It's a sadistic song that everyone teaches their kids.


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: GUEST,the skin trader
Date: 19 Jul 04 - 04:58 PM

I was looking for a name for my "Vendor Cart" and thought that maybe a nice olde childrens dittie (the name that preceeds nursury rhyme) would be a nice way to go. Now it is remarkable that: first I even found this thread and actually read the most of it. And by the by since I will be selling skins, pelts and tails at renaisance faires. the (implied meaning behind) name "ring around the rosies" and for actual (believed) personnal pest control ashes and posies in ones pockets were of some actual possibility. Let alone eucalyptus and or glasses of water around the floors of your house to catch the bouncing flea. But the (as a result of finding out why skins and pelts and tails were indeed so popular with the middle aged climate of both peasant and royal dress. As it turns out tails were worn by the upper class women (those residing within the castle walls) to attract the flea and before ending their own day they would detach and shake it fervently over the moat to drop the fleas collected during their day. "Nice tail" takes on new meaning! But at the same time both the upper class men and peasants and farmers and lower classed survivors alike would wrap pelts around thyne own ankles laces by their ghillies to then at days end walk throught the streams and shires waters to evict their own vermin attracted during there days work. Pretty easy decision I think on my part. I believe my cart has a name! "Ring Around the Rosie"


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: GUEST,Icehotchik771@yahoo.com
Date: 01 Aug 04 - 03:57 PM

I'd like to now if this song is a form of death song . So many people play it as a game , but don't think about the lyrics . I want to know what the word posey means.


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 01 Aug 04 - 04:17 PM

Well, you could always read the thread. Failing that:

1. No.

2. A small bunch of flowers.


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: GUEST,chrisnlisa03
Date: 27 Aug 04 - 11:28 AM

is there an exact definitive source to once and for all determine not only the right WORDS in the song....but where the origin of the song came from? especially since not everyone at the time of the black plague may not have had scholarly abilities.


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: GUEST,MMario
Date: 27 Aug 04 - 11:43 AM

NO. and No.


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Nerd
Date: 27 Aug 04 - 11:45 AM

chrisnlisa03, please read the thread.

There is no "definitive" set of words to a folk rhyme; one of the essential characteristics of folklore is that it changes all the time.

There is usually no way to definitively establish the exact origin, either. Folklorists used to do research to establish the "Ur-form," what they believed to be the initial form a piece of folklore, and to establish its origin. Problem was, the results were always more or less speculative.

Beyond that, if you DO read the thread you'll find there is no evidence for the rhyme being as old as the Plague. Therefore the scholarly abilities of plague victims are irrelevant.


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Subject: RE: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 27 Aug 04 - 12:46 PM

Only one unsupported statement that puts the rhyme back as far as the late 1700s. All this has been gone over before, just read the thread.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: GUEST,the unknown
Date: 20 Sep 04 - 09:16 AM

ya'll need to grow up find something else to do better with ur time


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Nerd
Date: 20 Sep 04 - 02:30 PM

Well, we HAD until you revived this boring old thread!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: masato sakurai
Date: 05 Oct 04 - 01:50 AM

I've found this version in J.P. McCaskey, ed., Franklin Square Song Collection, No. 4 (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1887, p. 101). The tune is a "Yankee Doodle" variant.

X:1
T:[Ring around a rosy]
M:2/4
L:1/8
K:A
A A B c|A2 E2|A A B c|A2 E2|
w:Ring a-round a ro-sy, Sit up-on a pos-y,
A A B c|(dc) (BA)|G E F G|A2 A2|]
w:All the girls in our_ town_ Vote for Un-cle Jo-sie.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: GUEST,claudiakeel@earthlink.net
Date: 30 Oct 04 - 09:46 PM

In all the discussion of 'Ring around the Rosey', I read no mention of another isource and interpretation that I have come across. Namely that it has its sources in ancient Europe traditions- preserrved by the revelries of the Mummers.
   The interpretation appears to be esoteric, and related to the many traditions around (the (mystical aspect of ) the rose. 'Ring around a rosary' is one version I've heard. The posies were said to be a reference to the fairy realm. In the dance associated with the rhyme, the dancers formed a 5-pointed star and walked around a circle. (A multiple of 5 petals is a number associated with the rose family and also with esoteric thought re. 'quintescence') In the center was a symbolic victim - called a fool - and symbolically slain - to be resurected, after "falling down" by the dew of the rose - (or by the childrens playing!).
   Even if this interpretation cannot be substaniated, certainly there is some connection to the rose tradition in Europe and the protecting aspect of herbs (posies). I would like to hear a response from the group.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 30 Oct 04 - 11:21 PM

In view of the constantly recurring speculations, it seems a good idea to post a variety of the versions, with dates. The earliest dated "Ring Around the Rosie" is ca. 1790 (and this reference can't be found now) as suggested in this rhyme from Massachusetts:

Ring a ring a rosie,
A bottle full of posie,
All the girls in our town,
Ring for little Josie.

Published 1883:
Round the ring of roses,
Pots full of posies,
The one who stoops last
Shall tell whom she loves best.

Also published 1883:
Ring around the rosie,
Squat among the posies,
Ring around the roses,
Pockets full of posies,
One, two, three- *squat!
(this one still used in Georgia in the 1930s. "Last one squats will be old Josie" is the end of one from Texas. Also see the one from Switzerland)

1840s, acc. to W. W. Newell:
A ring, a ring, a raney
Buttermilk and tansy,
Flower here and flower there,
And all- squat!

The above all from W. W. Newell, Games and Songs of American Children, 1883, (1903), Dover reprint.

Now a few from the other side; from the Opies, "The Singing Game."
1880s, Lancashire:
A ring, a ring o'roses
A *pocket full o' posies- *or bottle
Atch chew! atch chew!

1881, Greenaway, Mother Goose:
Ring-a ring-a-roses,
A pocket full of posies;
Hush~ hush! hush! hush!
We're all tumbled down

Shropshire, 1883:
A ring, a ring o' roses,
A pocket full o' posies,
One for Jack and one for Jim
And one for Little Moses!
A curchey in, and a curchey out,
And a curchey all together.
(Children curtsey at end. See the Italian one)

ca. 1900, Italy:
Gira, gira, rosa,
Co la più: bela in mezo,
Gira un bel giardino,
Un altro pochetino;
Un salterelo,
Un altro de più belo;
Una riverenza,
Un'altra per penitenza;
Un baso a chi ti vol.
---
Ring a ring a roses
With the most beautiful in the middle;
Ring a pretty garden,
Another circle round,
A little skip,
Another even better,
A curtsy,
Another for penitence;
A kiss for the one you like.

1857, Switzerland:
Ring-a, ring-a, row,
The children go into the greenwood,
They dance around the rosebush
And all *squat down.

Above all from Iona and Peter Opis, 1985," pp. 219-227, "The Singing Game."

A simple little children's game, with its many variants, has picked up all sorts of baggage from speculation. The rhyme is lost under the load. Even the Opies couldn't resist and piled on their own supercargo-
"Thus in 'Ring a Ring o' Roses,' we have, or so it seems, a spray from the great Continental tradition of May games, that preserves the memory, however faintly, of the rose as the flower of Cupid, the wreath of roses with which Aphrodite crowned her hair, ...."


Now the relation to-
Ring me, ring me, ring me rary,
As I go round, ring by ring,
A virgin goes a-Maying,
Here's a flower ...... etc.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 31 Oct 04 - 01:22 AM

A refreshing note of realism from Q, important in a discussion of this kind, prone as it is to flights of bizarre and unsubstantiated fantasy.

Claudia, for example, has just referred to another very unlikely interpretation; unfortunately without any information of any kind as to who might have suggested it. Sad to say, it will certainly be picked up and quoted as "fact" by future fantasists. I'd be grateful if she would give us a proper citation ("said to be"? By whom? Where, and when?) What dance? Documented where? When? She appears to be describing a typical sword dance, but there is, so far as I know, no record of any kind of any association with the rhyme to be found in any known tradition; though I don't doubt that one or more "happy guessers" has mixed them up some time in recent years, quite possibly insisting because it ought to have been true that there is some real basis for their flight of fancy.

Evidence, please; or at the very least, a reference to something a little more substantial than one person's hearsay.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: GUEST
Date: 01 Nov 04 - 08:15 PM

Can someone please tell me what "ring around the rosey" originated from?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: MMario
Date: 02 Nov 04 - 11:02 AM

guest - the 'best guess' seems to be "no one knows" - but it is almost definately *NOT* about the black plague. Alot of information is in this thread and related ones - you might have more specific questions if you read through the various arguments.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 02 Nov 04 - 11:52 AM

Guest, you have the best information anywhere in this thread. There is no more at this time. Echo MMario.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: GUEST
Date: 20 Nov 04 - 11:34 PM

I've heard it two ways as a child.
The first version ended with the ashes, ashes part but the second version ended with red bird, blue bird we all fall down. My grandmother didn't like us singing this when we were children because she said it was related to witches incantations. I don't know where she got that idea from seeing as how everyone "believes" it was about the plague. Go figure...


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: GUEST,Sher
Date: 08 Dec 04 - 08:31 PM

Well, I just read through all of the threads (from beginning to end). I can see why people would find it easy to believe in the Black Plague Theory. But alas, if some of you, whom seem to have put your first entry over two years ago haven't found any evidence then I doubt I'll find any soon. I have a two-year-old and so my interest has thus been sparked because I'm not sure if I want her to sing it. But if I don't let her I want it to be because there is evidence that it is an incantation or a rhyme about half the world's population dying from some dreadful disease (even tough it seems I can dismiss this theory). Yes, I find I now tend to think about some of this folklore a little differently now that I have an impressionable little one myself.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: GUEST,Di
Date: 11 Jan 05 - 10:02 PM

how can this nursery rhyme be a coincidence? seems to be to many similarities. your all high! get a clue


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: GUEST,Not High
Date: 12 Jan 05 - 12:47 PM

Coincidence? Or somebody's wishful thinking?

We sang this song when we were tots and, regardless, no one seemed to connect it with the plague. Any child who does has been brainwashed by a paranoid grownup in the background.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 12 Jan 05 - 01:20 PM

Collected from Yorkshire (Gomme, 1894, 1898, vol. 2, "The Traditional Games of England, Scotland and Ireland," Ring a Ring o' Roses IV, p. 109.

Ring, a ring o' roses,
A pocket full of posies;
Up-stairs and down-stairs,
In my lady's chamber-
Husher! Husher! Cuckoo!

The year 1502. Rose was having a go with the coachman up in her chambers. All the servants went around saying "Hush! Hush!" but of course the story was repeated in the tavern and the husband heard it. He reported her to the church and town councilors and she was bound for trial. Following conviction for adultry and harlotry, she was condemmed and taken to the town square, where she was burned at the stake.

After that, the last line was changed to "Ashes! Ashes!"

(Anonymous authority)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: The Unicorn Man
Date: 12 Jan 05 - 02:12 PM

My version of all this is. "Ring a ring a roses" Meaning red rash all over the body where the plague had attacked. "Pocket full of posey's" meaning as Willa and others have said is the remedy they tried. Petals on the rash to try and calm it. "Tishoo Tishoo they all fall down" Meaning catching a cold and then finally falling down with the fever.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: GUEST,MMario
Date: 12 Jan 05 - 02:13 PM

Martin - have you read the rest of the thread?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: GUEST,Lighter at work
Date: 12 Jan 05 - 05:33 PM

Q,the mentally ill were customarily burned at the stake too, hence the crowd's cry of "Cuckoo! Cuckoo!"


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 12 Jan 05 - 05:34 PM

It really doesn't matter which version you believe, there being no real evidence for any of them. Still it's nice to see so many catters enjoying themselves trying to unscrew the inscrutable.

DT


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 12 Jan 05 - 08:15 PM

Though it's also a little depressing to see people repeating modern hearsay without bothering to read what has already been said. Genuinely new information is always welcome, but old stuff repeated in ignorance is a waste of everybody's time.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 12 Jan 05 - 08:57 PM

Cuckoo and cuckold are related words. Cuckold derives from the cuckoo's practice of laying an egg in another bird's nest. Usage found in the 13th century.

Cuckoo, applied to an insane person, originally was U. S. slang and is first found in print in 1918. Not admitted to the Oxford English Dictionary until the 1987 edition. Even as late as Gomme's time, an Englishman would relate the word in the rhyme to a cuckolding.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: GUEST,Dummy from Brummie
Date: 13 Jan 05 - 12:04 PM

I believe everything I am told. Unless it is on the thread to which I am posting. Then I don't bother to read it.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: The Unicorn Man
Date: 14 Jan 05 - 11:56 AM

MMario I must confess not, I was in a bit of a rush when I wrote that. What have I got wrong? I promise to read every single thread, but not until Saturday. I am interested in this cos I have written a song about it. And guess what it is called! That's right "Ring of Roses" I will read the threads and get back to you.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: GUEST,MMario
Date: 14 Jan 05 - 12:00 PM

Martin - the reason I asked was because the discussion in the thread pretty much shows that there is no evidence whatsoever that 'Ring around a rosie" is about the plague.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Lighter
Date: 14 Jan 05 - 12:07 PM

We all know the little finger is called the "pinky." Well, the third finger was once called the "rosey." That's right! During medieval wedding ceremonies, the groom was always asked to put the "ring around the rosey!" Yes, he was ! "Posies" refer to the wedding bouquet, and the ashes are what was left of the fire after the huge dinner later. "We all fall down" because we're all tipsy from eating and drinking.

Doesn't everybody know this? Must I "discover" these things myself?

Yours,

L. in a parallel universe


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: The Unicorn Man
Date: 14 Jan 05 - 01:34 PM

Yes.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: GUEST,Guest
Date: 23 Jan 05 - 02:03 AM

I think the concept of ring around the rosey being about the black death in the 16th century is appalling. How could such a terrible thing that called so many innocent people be turned into a sweet nursey rhyme for little kids to jump around and sing too. They are representing a song of death. Why and how could people allow this song of death be changed into a kids song? would you want your kids falling down on the ground when it means they drop dead? Maybe im wrong but this is my opinion the song should not be allowed to be written in childrens books, it should be in history books instead!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: thespionage
Date: 23 Jan 05 - 11:44 AM

I had heard the black plague. If you'd like to know the origins of Arlo Guthrie's "Ring-Around-A-Rosy Rag," let me know. : )

Russ
Practitioner of Thespionage and Folk Music


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Lighter
Date: 23 Jan 05 - 11:52 AM

But Guest, Guest, I just proved it's a happy song. If kids don't sing it, the idea of marriage could come under threat.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: GUEST,teh balck death
Date: 25 Jan 05 - 05:41 PM


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: GUEST,the black death
Date: 25 Jan 05 - 05:51 PM

Ring around the rosie- the red "mark" 1st sign that you had the plague.
pocket full of posies- The flowers that People carried to the smell of the bodies down.
Ashes ashes- They burned the bodies sence no one wanted to bury them.
Or Achoo Achoo- the snezzing that came with the plague.
We all fall down- The plague spared no one. Rich, poor, old or young it would kill you..
This is the real meaning of the childhood song that we sang.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Lighter
Date: 25 Jan 05 - 06:11 PM

No, no, no, it's a happy wedding song.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 25 Jan 05 - 07:37 PM

More of that plague nonsense. It really is a song about hay fever and ash ma (asma, azma, asthma). Atch-oo!

(In Middle English, asma; but scholars Greekified it)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Lighter
Date: 25 Jan 05 - 10:50 PM

No, no, no. It's a happy wedding song.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 25 Jan 05 - 11:37 PM

This happy little game could be related to "Merry-ma-tansie," the marriage game in Scotland- "a happy wedding song" as Lighter insists. One of the verses is-

Twice about and then we fall,
Then we fall, then we fall,
Twice about and then we fall,
Around the merry-ma-tansie.

An old variant in America-
A ring, a ring, a ransy,
Buttermilk and tansy,
Flower here and flower there,
And all- squat!

More verses, but I think they have appeared in Mudcat already.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: GUEST,Lighter at work
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 10:21 AM

Q, I feel GOOOD! SO GOOOOOOD! We're all dancing around the office right now!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: GUEST,Christina
Date: 30 Jan 05 - 03:08 PM

ummm..... I heard It was about Black Death, but why would they have children singing a song about such a horrible thing? I think Lighter is right about it being a song about a wedding. : )


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Nerd
Date: 31 Jan 05 - 01:49 PM

Actually, it's about that favorite schoolyard pastime, the kick up the arse!

The "Rosey" is not a facial cheek but the cheek of someone's arse. The "ring" is the mark made by the hobnail boot of a person administering a swift kick. The Pocket full of posies is the back pocket of the victim's trousers, at which the kick was traditionally aimed, and the rest of the rhyme is:

"arses, arses, we all fall down!"


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Lighter
Date: 31 Jan 05 - 07:51 PM

Nerd, if the kick had been administered during the actual wedding (say, to the bride holding the bouquet or "poseys") our analyses would jibe nicely.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 31 Jan 05 - 07:59 PM

It's a pity the kick can't be administered to the idiots who repeatedly post the same old, discredited myth to this over-long and played-out discussion without bothering to read any of it first. What do they think they are achieving, beyond wasting everybody's time?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Lighter
Date: 31 Jan 05 - 08:12 PM

Malcolm, if you'd been educated over here, you'd know exactly why this happens.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: masato sakurai
Date: 31 Jan 05 - 08:15 PM

With the "Black Death" myth often cropping up, this thread seems never ending.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Nerd
Date: 31 Jan 05 - 08:16 PM

Yes, that was the subtext of my post, Malcolm :-)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 31 Jan 05 - 08:34 PM

This thread will outlive us all...


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 31 Jan 05 - 08:46 PM


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 31 Jan 05 - 08:48 PM

?

Rosie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: GUEST,Gordo
Date: 01 Feb 05 - 12:13 PM

I believe the children's version dates to medieval times. The origin will never be traced accurately, bucause it was passed down in oral tradition. You can still see some of this in jump rope songs and military cadence chants. The verses will change to fit the times. It is easy to see the corelation between the words of Ring Around The Rosey and symptoms of the plague, and some of the previous variations of the words achoo, ashes, arses are one way a true folk song evolves - when words become garbled or misunderstood, new words are substituted. You will never find a direct tie to this rhyme. It is not like LIZZIE BORDEN TOOK AN AXE.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: GUEST,Gordo
Date: 01 Feb 05 - 03:25 PM

To: Christina, Jan 30.
It is nice, warm, and fuzzy to think that this was not a children's song. Politically correct in every way! BUT, a hundred or more years ago, death was more real to every living person, young or old. There were no antibiotics, hospitals were a mess and usually only a place to go to die. Most children did not live to the age of majority. Also, Do you remember the line from the child's prayer,Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, - "IF I SHOULD DIE BEFORE I WAKE"? This line has been changed recently.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 01 Feb 05 - 03:51 PM

All wrong!
On Sherman's March to the Sea, Union troops drew a ring around Atlanta and burned much of the city. 'Pockets full of posies' referred to the looting. Thus 'Rosie' is the burning city, and the troops were the 'ring.'
"Atlanta's Ashes" were the result (Apologies to Frank McCourt).


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Lighter
Date: 01 Feb 05 - 06:24 PM

Q, that's sick! Kids wouldn't sing about that.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: masato sakurai
Date: 01 Feb 05 - 07:37 PM

This must be Q's version. Don't sing it in Georgia.

X:1
T:Civil War Ring a Ring a Roses
M:C
L:1/8
S:Q the Mudcatter
K:Bb
d3/2 c/ B c (dF F) F | G3/2 A/ B c B2 B B|
w:Ring a ring a ros - es A pock-et full of pos-ies A-
(D3/2E/) F F (G F) G B|(c3/2B/) (cd) c4|
w:ti - shoo a-ti - shoo We'll all_ fall_ down.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: GUEST,Turk
Date: 23 Apr 05 - 04:54 PM

Has anyone here ever heard of the 1918 Influenza Outbreak? An epidemic that lasted two full years, went around the world and killed between 20-40 million people.
The worst pandemic in known history.
The first markings of this "plague" came around the cheeks. Red and black, the ring of roses. The last symptoms were vile, horrible sneezes that threw blood and puss out of the lungs, quickly culminating in a wheezing death. Other rhymes were also invented about this pandemic, so maybe, was "Ring around the roses."


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Brían
Date: 23 Apr 05 - 07:53 PM

The Great Dying: The 1918 Influenza Epidemic will give a more accurate picture of this diease. My father-in-law had some memories. I have seen a letter written by someone who was warned by a fortune teller that she would die if she did not leave town (no surprise there). She did. I have read an account of a four-year-old singing THE WEXFORD GIRL complete knocking down with a stick and dragging around by the hair and announcing, "That's the best I ever sung it." A child's ability to comprehend all sorts of painful topics is totally underestimated.

Brían


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: GUEST,Joan
Date: 15 Jul 06 - 12:20 AM

I'm new to this forum and hope it's OK to jump in. Actually, I found this thread because I was looking for an interpretation of Arlo Guthrie's "Ring-Around-A-Rosy Rag," so my Google search brought up Russ' post, where he offers to explain the origins of Guthrie's lyrics to anyone who's interested. Well, I'm interested!

I would have written to Russ privately, since Guthrie's song is not the topic of this thread, but I couldn't figure out how to do that, so I'm posting away. I suspect that Guthrie's song is a drug song, what with references to going to the park and getting busted, Officer Joe Strange and blowing your mind, but what the heck is the "Ring-Around-A-Rosy Rag"? Help? Lyrics here: http://www.arlo.net/

And, to go back on-topic, the Urban Legend site Snopes.com has a page about the nursery rhyme, "Ring Around the Rosie." They reject the "black plague" interpretation:
http://www.snopes.com/language/literary/rosie.htm


-- Joan


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: danensis
Date: 15 Jul 06 - 05:18 AM

I find it interesting the way The Black Death (an airborne infectious disease) and the Great Plague (a flea borne viral infection) have become conflated in this thread.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: GUEST,Nerd
Date: 15 Jul 06 - 09:21 AM

Not so, Danesis. The incidents generally known as "The Black Death" and "The Great Plague" were both flea-borne. They were, most likely, the same disease: Bubonic Plague. You can also catch the infection by coughed saliva and blood droplets of victims, however (pneumonic plague).

It is bacterial, not viral.

There are a few scientists who question that the Black Death was bubonic plague, but I don't know their research well. Do you have any further knowledge on this?

BTW, interesting as your post is, it is, as we have been saying, irrelevant to "Ring around the Rosie." Just sayin'.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: danensis
Date: 15 Jul 06 - 11:25 AM

My apologies, I didn't realise that the Black Death was the septicemic form of the infection casued by Yersinia pestis.

Many nursery rhymes were based on topical events of the time - Little Jack Horner, Goergie Porgie, HUmpty Dumpty, and I see no reason why "Ring a Ring a Roses" should be any different.

John


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: DMcG
Date: 15 Jul 06 - 12:13 PM

Ok, I'm finally convinced. There ARE good reasons for closing threats apart from abuse, etc.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: DMcG
Date: 15 Jul 06 - 12:14 PM

"threads", not "threats". Freudian slip there, I think.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: BuckMulligan
Date: 15 Jul 06 - 12:33 PM

danensis, while there may be links between some "nursery rhymes" and events in history, that's insufficient evidence for linking a particular rhyme to a particular event. Linguists, etymologists, and folklorists generally refuse to accept the link between "plague" or "Black Death" or any other particular event, eipdemiological or otherwise, and the "rind around the rosy" rhyme. It is a "folk etymology" unattested by hard evidence. You can still believe in it if you like, of course, but you're engagin in an act of faith, not science.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 15 Jul 06 - 12:52 PM

Ho hum. The rhyme itself appeared in the 19th c.

The ring was pubic hair around the 'rosy'. The last two lines are meant to evoke phallic images.

(Now isn't that a better explanation?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: BuckMulligan
Date: 15 Jul 06 - 01:52 PM

Perhaps, but also unattested.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Azizi
Date: 15 Jul 06 - 02:00 PM

Let me take this opportunity to say "Welcome" to all new guests who came here to find out more about Ring Around The Rosey and other subjects.

I hope that you will consider joining our online community. Joining Mudcat is free and easy-Just click the word Membership at on the right hand top of any page.

One of the benefits to membership is the ability to send private messages [pms] to other members.

Best wishes,

Azizi


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: BuckMulligan
Date: 15 Jul 06 - 10:14 PM

How nice to have you managing all this for us, Azizi.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Azizi
Date: 15 Jul 06 - 10:27 PM

If by 'managing' you mean greeting guests, then that buck stops with all of us.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring around the Rosy / Rosey
From: Azizi
Date: 06 Jul 08 - 10:56 AM

I happened upon this thread last night. After reading some of the old American variants of "Ring Around The Rosie", I got to thinking about the possible connection between these rhymes and the version of "Green Sally Up" that is found on Disc 4 of Alan Lomax's Sounds of the South, A Musical Journey from the Georgia Sea Isles to the Mississippi Delta {Atlantic 787496-2; 1993}.

There's another version of "Green Sally Up" that is included in the book but not the record of African American Georgia Sea Isles children's game songs, Step It Down by Bessie Jones and Bess Lomax Hawes. The "Step It Down" version of "Green Sally Up" is composed by combining floating lines and verses from "Miss Mary Mack", "I Love Coffee, I Love Tea" and other African American children's rhymes. As such, besides their first lines, the "Step It Down" version has very little in common with the "Sounds Of The South" version of "Green Sally Up". For that reason I think that the "Sounds Of The South" version of "Green Sally Up" is older than the "Step It Down" version.

Here are the two versions of these rhymes that I've mentioned:

Version #1- [from "Sounds Of The South" CD]
Green Sally up. Green Sally down.
last one squat got to tear the ground.

Ole {Oh?} Miss Lucy dead and gone.
Left me here to weep and moan.
If you hate it fold your arms.
If you love it clap your hands.

-snip-

Version #2- [from "Step It Down"]
Green Sally up, Green Sally down
Green Sally bake her possum brown.

Asked my mama for fifteen cents
to see the elephant jump the fence.
He jumped so high, he touched the sky
He never got back till the fourth of July.

You see that house upon that hill,
That's where me and my baby live.

Oh the rabbit in the hash come a-stepping in the dash,
With his long-tailed coat and his beaver on.

**

Btw, the song "Flowers" by the pop singer Moby uses the repeated clip of the Sounds of The South recording of "Green Sally Up". Could it be that Moby named his song "Flowers" because he thinks there's a connection between "Green Sally Up" and "Ring Around The Rosie" [particularly those versions of that game song found in Newell's book and posted in Q's 30 Oct 04 - 11:21 PM comment on this thread]?

Maybe...

**

I'll share some additional thoughts about the possible connections between some "Ring Around The Rosie" rhymes and the "Sounds of South" version of "Green Sally Up" in my next post to this thread.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring around the Rosy / Rosey
From: Azizi
Date: 06 Jul 08 - 11:34 AM

The first rhyme that I think has some similarities with "Green Sally Up" {what I call version #1, The Sounds of South" CD version} is the rhyme that Dicho posted on this thread in 2002

Ring around a rosey, pocket full o' posies,
Light bread, Sweet bread, Squat!
Guess who she told me, tralalalala,
Mister Red was her lover, tralalalala,
If you love him, hug him!
If you hate him, stomp!

-snip-

Source: Lomax and Lomax, 1939 Southern States Collecting Trip, from Wiergate, Texas: (Sec. 13, Merryville, LA and vicinity)

-snip-

I call this version "Louisiana Ring Around The Rosie" because Lomax and Lomax collected it from Louisiana {LA].

The last two lines of that rhyme remind me of the lines "If you hate it fold your arms/ If you love it clap your hands" in version #1 of "Green Sally Up" as given above. Also, version #1 of "Green Sally Up" and that Louisiana version of "Ring Around The Rosie" both include the word "squat".

Actually, as Q has shared with us in this thread, a number of Southern American versions of "Ring Around The Rosie" include the word "squat".

Here are reposts of two of these examples from Q's post above:

Ring around the rosie,
Squat among the posies,
Ring around the roses,
Pockets full of posies,
One, two, three- *squat!
-snip-

Should this be called "Ring Around The Rosie, Squat} to distinquish it from other Ring Around The Rosie" examples?

A Ring, A Ring, A Raney
A ring, a ring, a raney
Buttermilk and tansy,
Flower here and flower there,
And all- squat!

-snip-

I call this version "A Ring, A Ring, A Raney". I know that ring means circle, but what does "raney" mean?

Both of these examples are from the same source: W. W. Newell, Games and Songs of American Children, 1883, (1903), Dover reprint.

If the African American game song "Green Sally Up" originally had as it's source the British game song "Ring Around The Rosie" ,then it eventually became an entirely different song-as seen by the "Step It Down" version. Of course, any "early" connection between these two game songs is speculation on my part. But I believe that it's worth a thought or two.

My thanks to Dicho, Malcolm Douglas, and Q for jump starting my thoughts about a possible connections between "Green Sally Up" and "Ring Around The Rosie". I'm interested in any comments that folks here might have about these speculations.

Btw, this page of my website devoted to "Green Sally Up" contains most of these comments and more, including my thanks and a hyperlink to this thread:

http://cocojams.com/green_sally_up__song.htm


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring around the Rosy / Rosey
From: Azizi
Date: 06 Jul 08 - 11:40 AM

Clarification: By "Southern American" I meant Southern USA.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring around the Rosy / Rosey
From: GUEST,joeeeyyy
Date: 19 Jan 09 - 08:19 PM

its about the plauge


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring around the Rosy / Rosey
From: GUEST,Stephen Tierney UK
Date: 05 Oct 09 - 07:37 PM

Ring a Ring a Roses is English in origin and has been modified like chinese whispers around the worlds and appears in many different forms.

It's important to remember that in Victorian England and back to medieval times death and high mortality was a fact of life for children and so many phrases, poems and tales would have had an unsavoury origin. The rhyme would have travelled to the USA with early settlers and evolved.

Many English phrases have unpleasant origins. 'No room to swing a cat'(of 9 tails), 'one for the road'(to Tyburn),'sweet fanny adams' are good examples. Many English rhymes also have less savoury origins too.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring around the Rosy / Rosey
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 05 Oct 09 - 08:30 PM

This has been gone over several times in the posts above; nothing found before the 19th c. of this English game.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring around the Rosy / Rosey
From: GUEST,Mira Butterfly
Date: 05 Dec 09 - 08:31 PM

I would like to know the original verse, whether it be referring to the plague or not. All three verses; or so I am told.

Can anyone possibly help me with that?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring around the Rosy / Rosey
From: Jack Campin
Date: 05 Dec 09 - 08:45 PM

There isn't an "original" form of the rhyme - there are wide variations in the earliest ones we know. Read the whole of this thread.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring around the Rosy / Rosey
From: GUEST,-Crylo-
Date: 27 Dec 09 - 11:02 PM

My understanding of the rhyme here in Canada goes "Ring around the rosey a pocket full of posies, husha husha we all fall down.

It seems depending on location we hear the rhyme with different lyrics.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring around the Rosy / Rosey
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 28 Dec 09 - 12:42 PM

Crylo, correct.
The 'husha....' part is similar to that of a Greenaway Mother Goose version from England, c. 1881-
Hush! Hush! Hush! Hush!
We're all tumbled down.

To repeat from posts above, no reports of the rhyme before 1880, and the 'plague' idea is a fanciful interpretation from about the time of the First World War.
See Iona and Peter Opie, 1985, "The Singing Game," Oxford University Press.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring around the Rosy / Rosey
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 29 Dec 09 - 06:12 AM

Peter Opie, whom, along with Iona, I interviewed for Folk Review in the 1970s, described the 'plague' interpretation to me as "one of those pieces of folklore about folklore".


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring around the Rosy / Rosey
From: GUEST
Date: 30 Dec 09 - 04:18 AM

Following from Q, the Opies suggest the link is even more recent that the First world War. "The legend linking the plague with the game-song ... has not been found in the work of any commentator before the Second World War ..."


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring around the Rosy / Rosey
From: DMcG
Date: 30 Dec 09 - 04:25 AM

Sorry, above post was from me. I'm a few crumbs short of a cookie, I fear.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring around the Rosy / Rosey
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 30 Dec 09 - 04:36 AM

Further to my last post: Peter Opie went on to say that he didn't think children would ever have wanted to play games about dying of the plague — but they both looked a bit nonplussed, and simply replied "Good question", when I asked them: what, then, of the 'Going to the gas-chambers' game which they describe children in Auschwitz as having played, in their 'Children's Games in Street and Playground'. For some reason that I can't quite now recall I omitted this bit of our dialogue [which naturally I taped thruout with their permission] from the Folk Review feature as it eventually appeared (July 1974), so this is the first time I have published it. I still have the tape - somewhere...


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring around the Rosy / Rosey
From: GUEST,Asterisk
Date: 20 Jan 10 - 10:47 PM

THANK YOU for your wonderful, scholarly, and humourous thread on this fascinating rhyme...
to which no one will ever 'truly' know the all of answers. I have read the entire thread and do so appreciate all of your comments.

My hypothesis is that 'Ring around the Rosie' was inspired by the Dance of Death, gleefully performed in most European cities during the 14th century plague years. Death had become the Great Leveller, refuting the Chain of Being theory (heirarchy status quo of the Dark Ages)... it was the beginning of European understandings about equality!

I believe that children copied the swirling circular dance depicted in many medieval murals because it gave meaning to that terrible fact that everyone was falling down dead. The 'sing song' tone of the rhyme is an almost universally understood to be making mockery... in this case of the old ideas about heirarchy. All fall down became a type of anthem in that this fate was assured no matter what status a person had during their lifetime.

In the Dance of Death (I performed as Death in an original Spanish resucitation in 1982, then we 'modernized' the play for Canadian audiences in 1985), Death calls everyone, from the Pope, down through the Emporer, King, Captain, Merchant, etc. through 32 characters who all have their excuses, but none can refuse!

Na nana na na....


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring around the Rosy / Rosey
From: GUEST,latecomer
Date: 30 May 10 - 08:39 PM

This may be a bit irrelevant at this point, but I'm not sure how accurate verses that come after the well-known "Ring around the rosy" verse are. The one I know of goes:

Cows in the meadow
eating buttercups
ashes, ashes,
we all stand up.

Maybe kids wanted a reason to stand up after they fell down, and so made up a rhyme for themselves. What other "stand up" verses have you heard?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring around the Rosy / Rosey
From: Monique
Date: 13 Oct 10 - 04:41 AM

Would anyone know if there's a Welsh version of this rhyme?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring around the Rosy / Rosey
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 13 Oct 10 - 01:26 PM

No mention (Welsh) in Iona and Peter Opie, The Singing Game, Oxford, 1985, nor in Gomme.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring around the Rosy / Rosey
From: Monique
Date: 13 Oct 10 - 03:17 PM

Thanks!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring around the Rosy / Rosey
From: GUEST,Nerd
Date: 17 Jul 14 - 05:44 PM

Reading through this old thread, I just noticed that Hester unintentionally misunderstood the Opies. She says there is no connection between the English "May Games" and "Ring Around the Rosie" (which may be true), and that the Opies are therefore perpetuating nonsense when they say there is a connection among Classical deities, roses, and this rhyme, because those don't appear in English "May Games." But the Opies specified "the Continental tradition of May games," which goes back much further than the English May Games Hester studies. Indeed, the Opies seem merely to have meant European May celebrations, which go back to Classical times and do have all the associations the Opies mention.

As to whether they were part of English May Games, Hester knows more than I. But these associations were certainly known in England prior to the "May Games" proper; Chaucer's Legend of Good Women features Classical deities in rose garlands (though daisies are more prominent in the poem) who visit the poet on May Day. They were also certainly known during the heyday of the "May Games"; Thomas Morton's famous May Revels in Quincy, Massachusetts in 1627 combined a maypole, dancing, and a song to classical deities. Morton himself attested that his maypole "was a Trophe erected at first in honor of Maja, the Lady of learning which they [the Puritans] despise...," while Bradford, his detractor, wrote that "Morton became lord of misrule [...] They allso set up a May-pole, drinking and dancing aboute it many days togeather, inviting the Indean women, for their consorts, dancing and frisking togither, (like so many fairies, or furies rather,) and worse practices. As if they had anew revived & celebrated the feasts of ye Roman Goddes Flora, or ye beasly practieses of ye madd Bacchinalians."

Bradford and Morton were both middle-class rural Englishmen, Morton from Devon and Bradford from Yorkshire. The fact that they were fully aware of May Day's connection with flowers, Classical deities, and even fairies, makes it very unlikely, in my mind, that English people at the time were generally unaware of these connections.


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