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Friday, May 24, 2019

Celebrating "MARY HAD A LITTLE LAMB" ~ by Judy Ann Davis

Now that I have a seventeen-month-old grandson, born in Alaska, I consider it my duty as his Grammy to introduce him to books and send them to him for all major holidays and life events.

While searching for poems, I stumbled upon the information behind the nursery rhyme, “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” which was published by the Boston publishing firm, Marsh, Capen and Lyon, as a poem by Sarah Josepha Hale on March 24, 1830—189 years ago on this date.

Supposedly, the idea for the poem came from a true story of a fourteen-year-old girl, Mary Sawyer, who took her lamb with her to school after some encouragement by her brother. Naturally, the pet did not go unnoticed and ended up a distraction for the children.

There is speculation that parts of the poem might have been written by a young John Roulstone, who was visiting the school that day, but Sarah Josepha Hale is given credit. Later, the musical sheet was written by composer Lowel Mason in the 1830s.

What I believe is most amazing is that this simple poem, starting with Mary had a little lamb, its fleece was white as snow, has survived centuries upon centuries and is still sung or recited to young children even today. Can you remember all the words? If not, here is the complete poem.

Mary had a little lamb,
Its fleece was white as snow;
And everywhere that Mary went,
The lamb was sure to go.

He followed her to school one day,
Which was against the rule;
It made the children laugh and play
To see a lamb at school.

And so the teacher turned him out,
But still he lingered near,
And waited patiently about
Till Mary did appear.

"What makes the lamb love Mary so?"
The eager children cried.
"Oh, Mary loves the lamb, you know,"
The teacher then replied.
       ~ Author: Sarah J. Hale - 1788-1879 (1830)

If you have a favorite children’s poem you remember from childhood, or one you liked to use with your children or grandchildren, please share in the comments box. Grammy is always on the lookout for suggestions.

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  1. How sweet. loved reading the entire poem. I'm afraid my goat, (don'thave any sheep) would not have waited for me. She's too adventurous. Josepha Hale was also instrumental in having Thanksgiving declared a national holiday.

    1. I didn't know that about Thanksgiving. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. I think that was one of the first poems I learned when I was very small. Thanks for the memory, Grammy. Good luck with the book--such a lovely cover.


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