Nursery rhymes have been a part of our lives for centuries. The first major volume was Tommy Thumb’s Song Book, followed by Tommy Thumb’s Pretty Song Book, both of which were published in 1744. Many of the songs in this book are recognizable to English speakers and non-English speakers around the world today. Some use nonsense language and fantastical images to engage young singer’s and listener’s imaginations in new and creative ways. Others have mysterious origins that have led to a variety of wide-ranging and sometimes outrageous interpretations.
In fact, numerous volumes have been written in which writers from all sorts of backgrounds argue for hidden meanings in these childish songs. For example, ‘London Bridge is Falling Down‘ is sometimes associated with quite dark beginnings and deaths during the bridge’s construction. ‘Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary‘ might, some say, be about either Mary Queen of Scots or Mary I of England. Check out more possible interpretations below in our collection of popular nursery rhymes.