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
Last updated in version 3.3
Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List
Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography
The Ballad Index Copyright 2017 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.