Ring around the rosey
A pocket full of poseys
We all fall down.
I read that this nursery rhyme comes to us from the time of the Black Death. "Ring around the rosey" refers to the reddened sores plague victims developed. "A pocket full of poseys" was, I think, supposed to protect you from the plague's contagious miasma. And you don't have to be a genius to figure out what the rest of it says...
Okay, so maybe it's an urban legend, or a folk etymology. But boy, do a lot of nursery rhymes seem, well, a tad hostile:
Rock-a-bye baby, on the treetop...
Think this is how parents dealt with the stress before Prozac?
Fairy tales can be pretty gruesome too, although Disney's sanitized many of them from their previous forms.
For that matter, parents who want library books with sex and violence taken away and replaced by the Bible overlook how much sex and violence the Bible has. If a secular author wrote a book where the wisest man in the world was known for having 700 wives and 300 concubines, he'd be attacked by all sorts of religious people....
I've also heard that the "pocket full of poseys" comes from the need to wipe out the smell of the dead.
There is definitely some debate on the subject:
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