One of my favorite interests as a young mother and now an equally young grand mother :) has been to teach the babies nursery rhymes. I repeat them so much that by age 17 months, they fill in where I hesitate. Of course, they don't know the real meanings of these sordid tales, and for right now, they will be our little secret.
Most people know that "Ring Around the Rosie" refers to the bubonic plague and that the ring around the red rash was a sign of the illness. The rest of the nursery rhyme is pretty self-explanatory and gruesome. Jack and Jill refers to Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette of France. The ending was modified to make it more palatable to children.
I'd always thought that Humpty Dumpty referred to George III, who suffering from what they now think is porphyria, fell into madness before his death in 1820. Actually, Humpty Dumpty was a cannon that was so big and unwieldy that it was impossible to handle. The conception of the cannon was one of those things that looked good on paper.
The baby's favorite, at least right now, is "Mary, Mary, quite contrary; how does your garden grow. With silver bells, and cockleshells, and pretty maids all in a row." Sounds sweet, doesn't it? Mary refers to Mary Stuart, "Bloody Mary" -- a staunch Catholic and eldest daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, who executed by burning at the stake about 300 who refused to practice Catholicism. Silver bells and cockle shells were implements of torture -- silver bells were like thumbscrews and cockleshells were attached to the genitals -- and 'pretty maids all in a row' refers to the headstones of the hundreds martyred, although in other nursery rhymes, 'maids' were also guillotines.
Wait until you see what "Georgie Porgie" really means!!
- I am a retired English teacher and department head, the mother of three, grand mother of three, and have been married to the same man for 42 years. I subscribe to Dr. PM Forni's concept of Civility. I was born in South Philadelphia and grew up in the 'burbs. I love soft pretzels and cheesesteaks, the Phillies, the Eagles, and San Diego. I love being Mom, Aunt Kathy, Nona Kathy, and Teacher. I spend a lot of time in my gardens in the spring and summer, and in the winter I plan what I'm going to plant. I also am an avid reader and photographer.