Story time- The great plague & “ring around the roses”
Writing Credits: Myself. I rephrased and wrote this.
OKAY SOOO……. *Takes a sip of her tea and relaxes in the rocking chair*
The great plague that caused over 100,000 deaths in London, England is connected to the famous world wide poem, ringa ringa roses or as per the American version, “Ring around the roses”.
It’s sung as:
” A ring around the roses,
a pocket full of posies
We all fall down.”
Legends say that there was an allergy (having coughing and sneezing as symptoms) was the general cause of death during the Great Plague. Mostly, the infected person gave off bad smell that repelled the volunteers and general citizens, which is why they were isolated in buildings specified for them.
Uniforms were designed for the volunteers and the people that dealt with the patients. The uniforms were made of leather and they face masks were in the form of beaks that were usually filled with rose petals and posies(a herb) to protect them from the contagious disease as well as the foul smell the patients gave off.
The first symptom was a rosy rash, pink rash on the skin, in spots. [Hence a ‘ring’ around the roses; rosy spot]. Or it could be interpreted as most of the affected persons were children, that were then isolated in specified isolation wards. The roses were the kids closed in the ‘ring’ of the walls, although the widely believed concept is the former one.
Their body odor was a cause of discomfort for the public, for which the people carried posies (sweet smelling flowers) to ward off the smell of the plague; it was believed that the infection could be transferred from one to another by the odor. Thus they kept their pockets full of posies to avoid getting sick.
The corpses were either handled by the lower castes in London, paid by the rich or simply burned along with the houses they were isolated in. Also, as the disease found its place in the body, the skin would slowly turn dark and eventually turn as black as ash.
The last part “we all fall down” refers to the death caused by the plague, which did not only take lives but made their lives a living hell until they succumbed to death and their souls flew away, into the vastness of the skies and beyond.
This poem was, apparently, written/composed by some kids who were infected and closed off in a place surrounded with four walls and treated like a burden.
I wonder how much they would have been traumatized. Sigh.
Anyway, I’ve finished my tea and the story comes to an end here. I hope it was not too depressing but I had read about it long ago and could associate it to today’s situation; the lock-downs, the fear, the repellent people, the contagious viruses.
If you give it a thought, some kids in Italy, South Korea or even KSA, might be writing another “ring around the roses” in another language, with a little different lyrics explaining slightly different symptoms, different treatment by the people and trauma and pain a bit different, more or less intense in that of the kids back in the 1600’s.
I wish you all safety. Kindly take care and follow all the instructions of the doctors.
*Fixes her eye glasses and puts the cup of tea away*