“Ring Around the Rosie”


Singing game, with lyrics something like "Ring around the rosie, A pocket full of posies, Ashes, ashes, We all fall down."

Supplemental text

Ring Around the Rosie
  Complete text(s)

          *** A ***

From W. W. Newell, Games and Songs of American Children, item
#62, pp. 127-128, first text. From New Bedford; dated c. 1790.

Ring a ring a rosie,
A bottle full of posie,
All the girls in our town,
Ring for little Josie.

          *** B ***

This is the way I (RBW) remember hearing this item, presumably
sung by neighbourhood children. The version in Pankake & Pankake,
A Prairie Home Companion Folk Song Book, p. 229, is identical
excapt for spelling ("rosy, "pocketful") and the unequivocal
inclusion of "we." (I seem to recall the chant with and without
the pronoun.)

Ring around the rosie,
A pocket full of posies,
Ashes, ashes,
[We] all fall down.


The words cited here are the ones I learned (I don't remember playing the game, but I've heard the song), and Pankake's text is almost identical. Presumably this is the form most common in the American Midwest. Newell, however, cites older (and presumably more original) forms, and Gomme offers a variety with quite diverse refrains.

Baring-Gould-MotherGoose notes that some have connected this to the Great Plague. But they also observe that this is a very weak link, denied by most who have seriously studied the matter. - RBW


  • Pete Seeger, "Ring Around the Rosie" (on PeteSeeger33, PeteSeegerCD03)


  1. Linscott, pp. 49-50, "Ring Around ' Rosies" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Pankake-PHCFSB, p. 227, "Ring Around the Rosy" (1 text, tune referenced)
  3. SHenry H48c, pp. 10-11, "Ring a Ring o' Roses" (1 text, 1 tune)
  4. Opie-Oxford2 443, "Ring-a-ring o' roses" (4 texts)
  5. Baring-Gould-MotherGoose #639, p. 253, "(Ring-a-ring-a-roses)"
  6. ST PHCF227a (Full)
  7. Roud #7925
  8. BI, PHCF227a


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 881 (Greenway's _Mother Goose_, according to Baring-Gould-MotherGoose)
Keywords: nonballad playparty
Found in: US(MW,NE) Britain(England(All)) Ireland