Eerie for Thoughts: Ring around the Rosie

Hello Everyone,

First off I never really liked this nursery rhyme because something about it just didn’t set right with me. I am sure everyone has heard ideas of the origin behind the famous nursery rhyme. But have any of you actually taken the time to see for yourself what the origins of Ring around the Rosie truly are?

Ring around the Rosie:

So here is a couple different verses, all mixed together, and these depend on what country, or time period, you were singing Ring around a Rosie aka: Ring a Ring o’ Rosie, Ring A Ring o’ Roses.

Ring-a-ring o’ roses,
A pocket full of posies,
A-tishoo! A-tishoo!
We all fall down.


Cows in the meadows
Eating buttercups
A-tishoo! A-tishoo!
We all jump up.

Ring-a-round the rosie,
A pocket full of posies,
Ashes! Ashes!
We all fall down.


Hush! Hush! Hush! Hush!
We’ve all tumbled down


Ringa ringa roses,
Pocket full of poses,
Hush-sha bush-sha,
All fall down

And an Early Version:

A ring — a ring of roses,
Laps full of posies;
Awake — awake!
Now come and make

A ring — a ring of roses.

Tales of the Origins:

So as we can see the nursery rhyme has changed over time and from country to country. The basis remains the same but the differences in the lyrics can mean quite a few things.

Some believe that it was simply to be associated with the child-like game of dancing around others whilst in a circle, and chanting the rhyme. Some believe that it was to describe a dance and at the end when ‘they all fall down’ was actually the curtsy for the end of the dance when people would bow to one another.

Now on the eerie side of things we are all probably very aware that some say the song was based off the plague that swept across Europe. But which one and what time. Some say the Black Plague, which once again can be vague considering that different plagues often carried a similar name. Yet the original one known as the ‘Black Death’ swept through Eurasia in the late 1300s. It killed some 75 – 200 million people. Or so a historian states. 125 million person gap is a big margin.

We have heard that the “ashes” lyrics of the song are talking about the burning of the bodies to eradicate any remainder of the disease. The rings around the Rosie’s are either the marks left on the skin from the plague or the rose petals inserted into to pockets to keep the plague at bay. The of course “we all fall down.” Once again perception. Many think that this was everyone dying and falling down. But did you know that this tale of the origin of the nursery rhyme didn’t come about until the 20th century? Did you also know that the earliest versions of the nursery rhyme, ‘Ring around the Rosie,’ didn’t come about until the late 1790s? Huh!

Yet the tale is more closely related to the plagues reoccurring years of 1665. So it gets a little closer to the date. People make up signs these days about stuff that happened 100 years ago, 200 years ago, for the future years, a party like its 1999 and it’s only 1982.

Now another eerie tale of origin is one that dates back to the times of the brothers Grimm. Jacob had noted a nursery rhyme with similar lyrics but it was one of Pagan origin. This could date back further that previously mentioned but it still has nothing to do with the Black Plague. This was a rhyme about children who could laugh rose petals out of their mouths. A story of beings of Light.


I just wanted to put into the light there a little bit for others because I was under the influence the last several years that this was ‘absolutely’ a rhyme about “The Great Black Plague.” So upon looking it up I found this information and decided to share.

Yet, I still like to think it is from that, it adds that eeriness to the old familiar rhyme Ring around the Rosie. I imagine s small group of children singing it in a darkened alley with dirty water running over the cobblestone streets. Crying and weeping from people in the distance that is muffled out by the occasional coughing fit. Cats and mice and stray dogs with mange run through the streets with more courage than a human would dare. Carrying the scent of death upon them as they search for scraps. You only know as the night slowly creeps in upon the city streets and the back alley that you are viewing that the slight drop in temperature is going to bring the Grim a knocking on several doors that night.


Thanks for Reading,

Joshua Crane Dowidat


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