We all fall down”
I am sure that you have heard small children singing this, or maybe even you sang this growing up. The best part was when you fell down at the end. That said, it is said that this rhyme actually as a very dark origin. Urban legend has it that children during the black plague would sing this tune when they would see the carriage filled with bodies dead from the plague. But is this true? If we look closely at the lyrics, it is safe to assume that there must be a ring around a red bump or blister. The next line with the posies; posies are a very fragrant flower that was believed if smelled it would protect the sniffer from contracting a disease that they then believed were carried by a foul smell. The “Ashes! Ashes!” most likely refers to the burning of the bodies to keep the plague from spreading even in death. But why does the “We all fall down” come at the end? Was it to predict that the rest of the population would die? Or, as many folklorists believe, was that just a curtsy. In the flowing I will examine the different plagues and see if any of them match these lyrics.
First up is the is the most famous, but the less deadly, bubonic plague. I know it is called the Black Death, but the next two are far worse. That said, this specific plague did the most damage; most of the population of Europe, 30%-60% dead, in only 7 years. That 30 to 60 percent translates to 75 to 200 million of Europeans in the late 1340's to the mid 1350's were dead. This plague has been traced back through Asia where the infected rats came from through way of boat travel to Europe. Now one of the symptoms of the black death were the appearance of buboes, swollen lymph glands. You must be thinking, “Ah-ha! The ring around the rosie!” but there were no rings around these buboes, and these were not rosie, or any form of red. If anything they started off looking like a skin coloured bump, but as the plague progressed it would either ooze pus and bleed if popped, or it would turn black. The reason it would turn black is because the plague made that area of skin die, so it would rot. People with noticeable buboes would, of course, be outcast because coming in physical contact with this person would most likely infect that person. This psychical contact is the main reason that this plague did so much damage. It came to Europe in the winter, and in the winter families would huddle together for body heat; but if just one member had the black plague, it was not long before the rest of the family had it too. Although, it did no just start out as buboes, some of the first symptoms included headaches, vomiting, and aching joints. It sounds like the flu at first, but once the person manifested the buboes, the people who were treating the infected person already, most likely, already had contracted the black plague.
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