Ring Around the Rosie.
“Ring around the rosie.
Pocket full of posie.
Ashes to ashes.
We all fall down.”
I’ve heard this poem over and over in numerous situations. Never really thought about the meaning of it until I heard a song by Dave Matthews called “Grave Digger” that pretty much explained it’s meaning. Then, I read this little article below. Found it interesting that they turned this poem into a nursery rhyme for children. Weird.
“Ring Around the Rosie” first appeared in Mother Goose in 1881. However, the nursery rhyme already enjoyed a colorful history by this point. It seems to have been recited in 18th century America and appeared in nineteenth century novels. The Old World poem seems to predate the American colonies as it has been associated with the London Plague of 1665 and the Black Death. The origin of the poem may actually rest with the original Black Death outbreak of the mid-fourteenth century. Under this interpretation, “Ring Around the Rosie” is actually a grim remembrance of a cataclysmic event as opposed to a cheery children’s nursery rhyme.
The Black Death struck Europe with a fury in 1347. The disease migrated from Asia via trade routes. It decimated Asia, Africa, and Europe unlike anything before or since. The plague wiped out entire population centers. The disease depopulated the world by at least 20% and killed between 30-60% of Europe’s population. The cataclysm left lasting scars for the survivors and a death culture evolved. The period’s art often included skeletons and other dark symbols. The literature and correspondence smelt of death. “Ring Around the Rosie” seemingly transposes this culture into rhyme.