Why are children's rhymes so much dark nonsense, and what could it all mean?
Many children over time have fallen asleep to an innocent lullaby about a baby who, strangely enough, has been left on a treetop, in a precarious danger of falling with every breath of wind. Elsewhere a poor black sheep has been taxed out of existence, with all three bags of wool sent off to the one percent. In another place, two kids fall down a hill under mysterious circumstances, one of them breaking his crown. But that is not nearly as disconcerting when several church bells toll ominously, a candle comes to light you to bed, "and here comes a chopper to chop off your head!"
Why are these children's rhymes so much dark nonsense, and what could it all mean?
More pertinent to the psychological moment, what exactly is the mysterious message contained in:
Ring-a-ring a rosy,
A pocketful of posies
We all fall down
Many have pondered whether this children's game could be an allusion to the great plague, the infamous Black Death of the fourteenth century. The assumption goes that 'rosy rings' are the red sores that covered the victims body. 'Pocketful of posies' were probably used, ineffectually to sweeten the air that carried its own special odor of corruption. And when the Black Death had run its course, its victims fell down.
It must mean something, because otherwise what would be the point of those nursery rhymes?
Perhaps we could understand better if we didn't always view children through the concerns of adulthood. Children's culture could be considered for itself, nowt as a watered down version of what it is to be an adult. If you think about it, a child's goal is to be a successful child...children are not incompetent members of adult society, they are competent members of their own society, which has its own standards and its own culture.
There's a lot to learn from the lore of children, from what they say to how they play.
Particularly when it comes to the game of Cooties...or now probably, COVID.
In a kid's world, cooties and other similar contagions may not be real - but they are deadly serious. A social containment that passes from one child to another, a form of interpersonal pollution.
I don't know if you have heard others say, but normally if someone sneezes in public or coughs, you get a look of disgust from your peers. I wouldn't doubt that the next childhood nursery rhyme will be about cooties or catching COVID.