10-second review: If you can find this article on ERIC (http://reading.indiana.edu/), buy it. The legends behind the nursery rhymes.
Title: “Mother Goose—Elucidated.” Margaret Chisholm. Elementary English (December 1972) 1141-1144. Elementary English was the elementary publication for the NCTE that preceded Language Arts.
Summary: The author visited the sites in the
Mary, Mary Quite contrary
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells and cockle shells
And pretty maids all in a row.
“Mary in this nursery rhyme refers to Mary Queen of Scots, who went to
Comment: Well, it sounds like a stretch. Still, the explanations are worth considering and then possibly checking for any other information you can find on the Internet. For example, the first site I visited agreed that the subject of the rhyme was Bloody Mary, but the bells and cockle shells were instruments of torture used in Mary’s reign against the Protestants. With this article as the source, you might have an interesting lesson in one of your high school classes. Check the Internet ahead of time to be sure some of the content is not controversial. The explanation for “Mary Mary” is at least R-rated. RayS.