“Una lezione per tutti!”: To sing or not to sing?

As would Shakespeare say….”Much ado about nothing”. The fuss is about a nursery rhyme, “Ring-a-ring-a-roses”, that all British children know and sang at some point at kindergarten. A delightful song apparently… Here’s the text:

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

One theory claims that this seemingly innocent nursery rhyme is about… the Plague! The charming words “roses” and “posies” acquire dreadful connotations when connected to the Black Death: the roses refer to the red blotches on the skin, the posies are intensely fragrant flowers used to cover up the foul smell while the somewhat funny-sounding “A-tishoo” might allude to the sneezing fits of the victims of pneumonic plague. The final line, according to that theory, shows people dying. What a nightmare!
However, we are not bound to accept that theory. Experts argue that there are many other variations of the song, which can hardly be linked to the Plague. Here is one, written in Venetian dialect:

“Gira, gira, rosa,
Co la più bela in mezo;
Gira un bel giardino,
Un altro pochetino;
Un salterelo,
Un altro de più belo;
Una riverenza,
Un’ altra per penitenza:
Un baso a chi ti vol.”

Jumps, kisses, curtsies and a never ending circle game, after all that’s what nursery rhymes should be about. Let’s forget about the first theory!

Annie Renaud

Image by Peggy Choucair from Pixabay