Rhymes » Mary Had A Little Lamp

More about “Mary Had a Little Lamb”

"Mary Had a Little Lamb" is a famous nursery rhyme of American origin.

It was first published by Marsh, Capen & Lyon, a Boston publishing firm, as an original poem by Sarah Josepha Hale on May 24, 1830, and was inspired by an actual incident.

Mary Sawyer (later Mary Tyler) kept a pet lamb that she took to school one day at the suggestion of her brother. As could be expected, there was a commotion. Mary recalled:

"Visiting school that morning was a young man by the name of John Roulstone, a nephew of the Reverend Lemuel Capen, who was then settled in Sterling. It was the custom then for students to prepare for college with ministers, and for this purpose Roulstone was studying with his uncle. The young man was very much pleased with the incident of the lamb; and the next day he rode across the fields on horseback to the little old schoolhouse and handed me a slip of paper which had written upon it the three original stanzas of the poem..."

There are two theories about the origin of the poem. According to one, Roulstone wrote the first four lines, and the final twelve lines, less childlike than the first, were composed by Sarah Josepha Hale. The other theory is that Hale was responsible for the entire poem.

Mary Sawyer's house, located in Sterling, Massachusetts, was destroyed on August 12, 2007 by arson. A statue representing Mary's Little Lamb stands in the town center. The school house, Redstone School, which had been built in 1798, was purchased by Henry Ford and relocated to a churchyard in Sudbury, Massachusetts on the property of Longfellow's Wayside Inn. The rhyme is also famous for being the first recording by Thomas Edison on his newly invented phonograph in 1877.

In the 1830s, Lowell Mason stylized the nursery rhyme to a melody adding repetition in the verses:

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

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

And so the teacher turned it out,
turned it out,turned it out,
And so the teacher turned it out,
But still it lingered near,
He waited patiently about,
ly about,ly about,
He waited patiently about,
Till Mary did appear.

"Why does the lamb love Mary so?"
love Mary so?" love Mary so?"
"Why does the lamb love Mary so?"
The eager children cried.
"Why, Mary loves the lamb, you know,"
lamb, you know," lamb, you know,"
"Why, Mary loves the lamb, you know,"
The teacher did reply.”

Rhymes - Mary Had A Little Lamb


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