“The Rattling Bog”

Alternate titles: “The Green Grass Growing All Around”; “The Endless Circle”
Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1877 (Miss M. H. Mason, _Nursery Rhymes and Country Songs_)
Keywords: ritual cumulative nonballad
Found in: Britain(England(South),Scotland) Wales US(Ap,MW,SE,So) Canada(Mar,Newf)


Cumulative song about the "great chain of being." Sample: "On this branch there was a twig/Rare twig, a rattling twig/Twig on the branch and the branch on the tree and the tree in the bog/Bog down in the valley-o." Most versions complete a circle


The Cornish words printed by Kennedy are by Talek, based on English texts with some Breton influence.

The "Rattling Bog" title is obviously rare, but I used it because it seemed the most popular pop folk title. I may have been wrong about that. - RBW

Cross references



  1. Randolph 459, "The Green Grass Grew All Round" (1 text)
  2. BrownIII 133, "The Pretty Pair Tree" (1 text)
  3. Fuson, pp. 87-88, "The Green Grass Grew All Around" (1 text)
  4. SharpAp 206, "The Tree in the Wood" (3 texts, 3 tunes)
  5. Sharp-100E 98, "The Tree in the Wood" (1 text, 1 tune)
  6. Sharp/Karpeles-80E 58, "The Tree in the Wood" (1 text, 1 tune)
  7. Creighton/Senior, pp. 258-260, "The Tree in the Bog" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
  8. Creighton-NovaScotia 92, "On This Hill" (1 text, 1 tune)
  9. Leach-Labrador 107, "The Stump" (1 text, 1 tune)
  10. Karpeles-Newfoundland 88, "The Tree in the Wood" (1 text, 1 tune)
  11. Gardner/Chickering 200, "The Tree in the Wood" (1 text)
  12. Kennedy 96, "An Wedhen War An Vre (The Tree on the Hill)" (1 Cornish text, 1 tune)
  13. Silber-FSWB, p. 391, "The Green Grass Grew All Around" (1 text)
  15. ADDITIONAL: Maud Karpeles, _Folk Songs of Europe_, Oak, 1956, 1964, p. 6, prints a Danish text, "Langt Udi Skoven," with a loose English translation, which is a similar cumulative song about a tree, but the idea is so simple that they might be independent
  16. Roud #129
  17. BI, ShH98