How Does Your Garden Grow Lyrics

How Does Your Garden Grow Lyrics

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

English nursery rhyme

“Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary”
Mistress Mary, Quite Contrary 2 - WW Denslow - Project Gutenberg etext 18546.jpg

Illustration by William Wallace Denslow

Nursery rhyme
Published c.

“Mary, Mary, Quite Opposite”
is an English language nursery rhyme. The rhyme has been seen as having religious and historical significance, but its origins and meaning are disputed. It has a Roud Folk Song Index number of 19626.



The most common mod version is:

Mary, Mary, quite opposite,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells, and cockle shells,
And pretty maids all in a row.[1]

The oldest known version was first published in
Tommy Thumb’due south Pretty Vocal Book
(1744) with the lyrics that are shown here:

Mistress Mary, Quite reverse,
How does your garden grow?
With Silver Bells, And Cockle Shells,
So my garden grows.[1]

Several printed versions of the 18th century have the lyrics:

Mistress Mary, Quite contrary,
How does your garden abound?
With Silvery Bells, And Cockle Shells,
Sing cuckolds all in a row.[i]

The last line has the well-nigh variation including:

Cowslips all in a row [sic].[ane]


With lady bells all in a row.[ane]



No proof has been constitute that the rhyme was known before the 18th century, while Mary I of England (Mary Tudor) and Mary, Queen of Scots (Mary Stuart), were contemporaries in the 16th century.[i]

Similar many nursery rhymes, it has acquired diverse historical explanations. One theory is that it is religious allegory of Catholicism, with Mary being Mary, the mother of Jesus, bells representing the sanctus bells, the cockleshells the badges of the pilgrims to the shrine of Saint James in Kingdom of spain (Santiago de Compostela) and pretty maids are nuns, merely even within this strand of thought at that place are differences of opinion as to whether information technology is lament for the reinstatement of Catholicism or for its persecution.[i]
Another theory sees the rhyme as continued to Mary, Queen of Scots (1542–1587), with “how does your garden grow” referring to her reign over her realm, “silver bells” referring to (Catholic) cathedral bells, “cockle shells” insinuating that her married man was non faithful to her, and “pretty maids all in a row” referring to her ladies-in-waiting – “The four Maries”.[1]

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Mary has also been identified with Mary I of England (“Bloody Mary”; 1516–1558), with “How does your garden abound?” said to refer to her lack of heirs, or to the common idea that England had become a Catholic vassal or “branch” of Spain and the Habsburgs. It is also said to be a punning reference to her chief minister, Stephen Gardiner. “Quite reverse” is said to exist a reference to her unsuccessful attempt to reverse ecclesiastical changes effected by her male parent Henry 8 and her brother Edward VI. The “pretty maids all in a row” is speculated to be a reference to miscarriages or her execution of Lady Jane Grey. “Rows and rows” is said to refer to her executions the of Protestants.[2]



  1. ^









    Opie, Peter; Opie, Iona Archibald (1997) [1952].
    The Oxford Dictionary of Plant nursery Rhymes. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 301. ISBN0-19-860088-7. OCLC 229161681.

  2. ^



    Roberts, Chris (2004).

    Heavy Words Lightly Thrown: The Reason Behind the Rhyme
    . London: Granta. pp. 33–34. ISBN978-1592401307. OCLC 56646713.

How Does Your Garden Grow Lyrics