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Yeah, the "ring around a rosy" is the hemorrhagic bubo seen in bubonic plague. A bubo is an enlarged lymph node in your neck, armpit or groin. It swells up and hemorrhages because the plague bacilli grow to huge numbers in lymph nodes and when the bacteria damage blood vessels there is hemorrhage. This causes a red ring to appear around the pale swelling.

"A pocket full of posey" might be the "medicinal herbs and flowers" people used to ward off infection, or it may refer to the flowers people bring to burials. "Ashes ashes we all fall down" refers to epidemic spread of disease with new cases appearing shortly after cremating an affected family member.

A lot of the "fairy tales" we all enjoyed were allegories of real, sometimes horrible, things that happened.


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