Behind the Song Lyrics and Meaning of “Ring Around the Rosie”


Do you bear in mind being a tender child? If this is the case, you most likely bear in mind taking part in at the playground in fundamental faculty or possibly within the again backyard of a grandparent or pal’s space.

For those who recall those halcyon salad days, then in all probability you additionally recall becoming a member of palms with some younger buddies and making a song the lyrics to the nursery rhyme, “Ring Across the Rosie.”

Ring across the rosie
pocket stuffed with posies
ashes, ashes
all of us collapse!

After which the youngsters, after making a song the music, conserving palms, and transferring in a circle, would drop to the bottom and chortle! Ah, the great ol’ days.

That means At the back of the Lyrics.

However in all probability later as an grownup, you discovered the reality: that “Ring Across the Rosie” is in point of fact a deathly little poem all in regards to the bubonic plague in London within the 1600s. ‘My God,’ you’ll have idea, how may just kids sing about such things as this?

You discovered in that second that the that means of the little ditty was once now not a adorable nonsense nursery rhyme, however quite a chant of the damned.

Ring across the Rosie intended the itchy rash across the inflamed sore of an individual unwell with the plague.

Pocket stuffed with posies have been the flower pedals that plague medical doctors showered upon their deceased sufferers, which additionally helped to push back their smell.

Ashes, ashes intended the cremated stays of the deceased.

And sure, whether or not unwell or now not: all of us collapse (on the finish of our lives).

(Eerie a laugh reality: All through the COVD-19 pandemic lockdown, the music was once used in an effort to be certain that one has washed their palms lengthy sufficient, about 15 seconds.)

However wait, expensive reader! Don’t imagine all you’ve heard!

Proof to the Opposite.

In truth, there may be quite a lot of proof that the nursery rhyme does now not come from those deathly origins. In truth, in all chance, that’s on no account the place the verse comes from.

Right here’s why:

The primary recorded model of the nursery rhyme didn’t display up till the mid-1800s, some 200 years after the plague. One would suppose that if 1/3 of Europe—i.e. 50 million folks—died and a handy little nursery rhyme had come as much as commemorate their loss of life, any individual would have written it down a time or two previous to the mid-1800s.

What’s much more likely is the rhyme was once in point of fact only a a laugh sport that manifested later, after the Nice Plague, and it was once only a ditty for youngsters. Most likely, they joined palms round a flower bush or a rose tree (in French: Rosier), rotated it a couple of instances and fell down guffawing (and even sneezing from the flower’s pollen). Or in all probability, as some say, the “fall” intended a kind of curtsy.

There are a super many diversifications of the verse, from German to Indian and every is other. Some come with other breads, some come with phrases like “Husha busha!” or “Purple Chicken Blue Chicken.” The truth that such a lot of variants exist implies that it most likely didn’t originate by the use of a unmarried ancient tournament just like the Nice Plague.


We’re no medical doctors, however well being professionals even have famous that the “signs” described within the commonplace American model of “Ring Across the Rosie” aren’t in step with the ones of the Nice Plague. And, we’ll upload, when you have been a dad or mum and your kid began making a song about a deadly disease, wouldn’t you inform them to not? However we digress…

After all, what the music way stays (no less than slightly) as much as interpretation. That suggests: it’s left as much as you. Do you need to imagine it was once born of the Black Plague? Or that it (most likely) got here a lot later in historical past and has simplest been retrofitted after the imaginable eerie that means was once landed on?

Both method, you’ll have all this to chomp at the subsequent time you’re with some friends and feeling nostalgic in a rose lawn.

Photograph: Getty Pictures