Thursday, April 1, 2010

Mary, Mary

As I was having fun puttering in my garden with the birds singing and the bugs biting, ringing in my head was the old English nursery rhyme: "Mary, Mary quite contrary, how does your garden grow?"  At the time, it seemed innocent enough and left me with a warm feeling of springtime nostalgia from my childhood and working in the garden with my family. 

Mary, Mary, quite contrary, 
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells, and cockle shells,
And pretty maids all in a row. 


Adult curiosity got the better of me because I have researched enough nursery rhymes to know their true meanings have nothing to do with the obvious and some are downright gruesome. This is one of them. If your stomach can handle it, check it out: 

Mary refers to Bloody Mary, Queen of Scots and we all know what happened to her. The garden is actually a reference to a graveyard. Silver bells and cockle shells were instruments of torture. Children don't know that and my grandchildren just enjoy the rhyming sounds minus the mayhem. Maybe next gardening day, I will sing Springtime in the Rockies. 

1 comment:

  1. I have often wished that at some point during my educational career I had done a research project of nursery rhymes. Once I found out what Ring around the Rosies was all about, I didn't enjoy singing it with my children as much. Enjoy your gardens!