46. Ring a Ring o’ Roses

Ring-a-Ring o’Rosies
A Pocket full of Posies
“A-tishoo! A-tishoo!”
We all fall Down!

This innocent looking rhyme first appeared in 1881, in the book Mother Goose. In reality it goes back in time to the 1660s, when The Great Plague ravaged humanity.

Bubonic plague or Black Death prevailed in London in 1665. It had claimed the lives of 70,000 people out of the 4,60,000 residents of London!

Doctors attending on the plague affected people had to wear protective outfits and a huge bird like mask, to protect themselves from being infected by the disease!

Nothing could stop the spread of this deadly disease. Only The Great Fire of London in 1666 could check the spread of Plague, by killing all the rats.

“Ring a Ring o’ roses” refers to the rosy colored rash, appearing on the affected person, as an early symptom of Plague!

“A pocket full of posies” refers to the medicines and herbs people used to carry in their pockets-hoping to keep off the plague!

“Achoo! Achoo! We all fall down” refers to the last sneezes of the affected person before he falls down, quite dead!

So the sad story of The Great Plague lies concealed in the most popular rhyme-which children love most. They love to play in groups, holding hands and running in circles!

Visalakshi Ramani


2 Responses to 46. Ring a Ring o’ Roses

  1. mk says:

    Its “Ashes! Ashes!” We all fall down. Not achoo.

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