Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary
DESCRIPTION: "Mary, Mary, quite contrary, How does your garden grow? With silver bells and cockle shells And pretty maids all in a row."
EARLIEST DATE: cf. 1744 (Tommy Thumb's Pretty Song Book, according to Opie-Oxford2)
REFERENCES (4 citations):
Opie-Oxford2 342, "Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary" (1 text)
Baring-Gould-MotherGoose #9, p. 31, "(Mistress Mary)"
Jack, p. 133, "Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary" (1 text)
Dolby, p. 83, "Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary" (1 text)
NOTES: This is one of those pieces for which a vast variety of explanations has been suggested. The Opies mention several religious explanations, but observe that different denominations give different meanings to the symbols. They also mention a possible connection to Mary Queen of Scots, leading them to add that the "pretty maids" might be the Four Maries of "Mary Hamilton" [Child 173]. Jack also mentioned Mary Queen of Scots, plus Mary Tudor, and finally the Virgin Mary, in which case the garden has something to do with Mary's virginity. - RBW
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