A ring a ring of roses

Ring a ring of roses, is a simple little rhyme that most children will recognised. However, twentieth century interpretations may cast a darker side to its origins.

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

“Ring a ring a roses”, you can hear the song it in your head as you read it, can’t you. A song that accompanies a small group of children as they hold hands and dance in a circle. So simple, so innocent, but what does it really mean?

Since the Second World War the rhyme has often been linked to the Great Plague, which devastated England and most of Europe during 1665. Called the Black Death, it displayed a rosy red rash as well as large pustular blisters that often formed a ring around the neck. A poise of herbs was carried to ward off the smell of disease, which, it hoped, would also keep it at bay. Coughing and sneezing were part of the progression of the disease which ultimately resulted in the individual falling down dead.

This is, of course, just one interpretation, but is does seem to fit the bill, like so many other children stories and rhymes that originated from dark origins. Who remembers:

“Oranges and Lemons”,

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