Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article

"Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary"
Roud #19626
Mistress Mary, Quite Contrary 2 - WW Denslow - Project Gutenberg etext 18546.jpg
Mistress Mary, according to William Wallace Denslow
Written byTraditional
Publishedc. 1744
WrittenEngland
LanguageEnglish
FormNursery rhyme
 
Jump to: navigation, search
"Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary"
Roud #19626
Mistress Mary, Quite Contrary 2 - WW Denslow - Project Gutenberg etext 18546.jpg
Mistress Mary, according to William Wallace Denslow
Written byTraditional
Publishedc. 1744
WrittenEngland
LanguageEnglish
FormNursery rhyme
William Wallace Denslow's rendition of the poem, 1901

"Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary" is a popular English nursery rhyme. The rhyme has been seen as having religious and historical significance, but its origins and meaning are disputed. It has a Roud Folk Song Index number of 19626.

Lyrics[edit]

The most common modern version is:

Mary, Mary, quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells, and cockle shells,
And pretty maids all in a row.[1]

The oldest known version was first published in Tommy Thumb's Pretty Song Book (c. 1744) with the following lyrics:

Mistress Mary, Quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With Silver Bells, And Cockle Shells,
And so my garden grows.[1]

Several printed versions of the eighteenth century have the lyrics:

Mistress Mary, Quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With Silver Bells, And Cockle Shells,
Sing cuckolds all in a row.[1]

The last line has the most variation including:

Cowslips all in arow [sic].[1]

and

With lady bells all in a row.[1]

Explanations[edit]

Like many nursery rhymes, it has acquired various historical explanations. These include:

The Opies argued that no proof has been found that the rhyme was known before the eighteenth century, while Mary I of England and Mary, Queen of Scots, were contemporaries in the sixteenth century.[1]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Opie, Peter; Opie, Iona Archibald (1997) [1952]. The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 301. ISBN 0-19-860088-7. OCLC 229161681. 
  2. ^ C. Roberts, Heavy Words Lightly Thrown: the Reason Behind the Rhyme (Granta, 2004), pp. 33-4.

References[edit]

External links[edit]