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Saturday, 1 October 2022

MARIA AND SERAH..... MARY HAD A LITTLE LAMB!

Some of the best  moments I have had in my retired life, after settling to my home town eight years back, is the time spent with my grandchildren. Nothing unusual than what the world generally goes with, but still I would consider myself lucky. The moments which are filled up with love and happiness, lighter moments of laughter and a lot more which only such  grandparents and grandchildren will fully understand! It is said that the genes skip a generation, though I don't know whether it is scientifically true or not. Probably that's why grandparents find their grandchildren so likeable!!

One thing which I am exposed to once again  during this period is the nursery rhymes which they went through while they were in play schools. To the best of my understanding a nursery rhyme  in English or any language or vernacular is a poem or song evolved around certain traditions or hearsays. They are  rhythmical and intended to amuse young children. Such rhymes are always imaginary and bear nothing to do with any actual event though for centuries they are passed from generation to generation.

But only recently I came to know that at least one among hundreds of such old nursery rhymes is based on an actual event. That's to do with Mary and her lamb. There was a Mary who lived in Sterling, Massachusetts, US around early 18th century. And she had a little lamb too which accompanied her wherever she went including the school! But the actual history of the authorship   of this popular rhyme is not kid stuff including legal battles in which even the Automobile icon Henry Ford was involved at one stage! And this rhyme was the first recorded human voice in the first Phonograph invented by Edison in 1877!

This article is dedicated to my grandchildren Maria and Serah. Maria will be completing her ninth birthday next month while Serah does her fifth today. Yes, Mary had a little lamb in true life!     


 

                                                                       Maria & Serah

1806 -It starts with Mary Elizabeth Sawyer.....
Mary Elizabeth Sawyer was born in 1806 on a farm in Sterling, Mass. When she was nine years old in 1815,while helping out her father in the farm, they discovered a sickly new born lamb that had been abandoned by her mother. Mary persuaded her parents to allow her to hand raise the lamb. Although they didn't expect the baby to survive for long, against all odds  Mary could nurse the poor lamb to health. And where ever Mary went this lamb just followed keeping a special relation with her! And as the lamb grew up she had a fleece as white as snow!

The lamb used to follow Mary and her brother to the one room school they attended which was known as Redstone School. In the class also Mary had very embarrassing moments due to the lamb.
 
         
      Redstone one room School which Mary and the lamb attended

One day One John Roulstone a student of the same school but senior to Mary wrote three stanzas of a poem based on the special relationship Mary and lamb had as we all know.

                                         Mary had a little lamb;
                                  Its fleece was white as snow;
                                  And everywhere that Mary went,
                                  The lamb was sure to go.
                       
                                  It 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 it out;
                                  But still it lingered near,
                                  And waited patiently about
                                  Till Mary did appear.

The lamb mothered three lambs of her own before she died. John Roulstone too suddenly died in 1822 at his age of 17 while he was at Harvard!

The controversy starts...
In 1830 Sarah Josepha Hale, a renowned writer hailing from Newport, published her book titled 'Poems for Our Children' which included a version of the poem penned by John Roulstone! Sarah didn't make it clear how she could include a poem about Mary's lamb. And Mary didn't have any idea how Sarah had gotten Roulstone's poem!!All the more Mary didn't have any proof to show than her testimony. Mary had lost his hand written poem but she didn't loose the socks she had knitted from the wool of the very lamb that followed her to school.  According to Mary Sawyer the lamb was a female while Sarah Hale's poem says it was a male!

Soon the residents of Sterling, Mass and those from Newport, New Hampshire were arguing about the the poem's provenance for years. The fight did not stop when Sarah died in 1879 followed by Mary who died in 1889!

The first recording of human voice..
When Thomas Edison invented the Phonograph for the first time in 1877, it was this poem that was recited for the first time! Yes. The first recording of human voice ever made was recitation of the poem 'Mary had a little lamb'!
                                          Mary Sawyer


Henry Ford comes to picture...
Henry Ford openly sided with Mary Sawyer by 1920.It was he who bought the old school building where the lamb incident took place and moved to Sudbury, Mass. The city authorities also made sure of preserving the house of Mary Sawyer to this day where it is erected now. He also published a book on Mary and the lamb!
                                Mary's house as seen today

It is interesting to note that a 2 feet tall statue of Mary's lamb stands in the town centre of Sterling!

Still an outstanding mystery....
It may be noted that I could not find anywhere the mention of the name of the lamb! After all this lamb was a pet and it is very likely that Mary had named it. But I could not find anywhere in the records the name in spite of the fact that the story of the lamb later became controversial. May be Maria or Serah  later, or any of my readers can find it and inform me...Always remember that no topic is trifle. Interestingly there is a lot to learn and understand in the world though many look silly apparently.

                    
Be imaginative, creative and inquisitive...life is altogether different with these virtues.
             ___________________________

32 comments:

  1. Happy Birthday Little Angel, God Bless both Princess๐ŸŽ‚๐ŸŽ‚๐Ÿ˜˜๐Ÿ’•Rashmi

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  2. Nelson Daniel
    Cute angels .. blessings.

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  3. Vineeth Abraham
    Happy birthday Serah๐ŸŽ๐ŸŽ‚๐ŸŽˆ. Nice article. On a lighter nite have you hear this version
    Mary had a little lamb
    It's ribbon was bright red
    Mary took it to school one day
    Between two hunks of bread.

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  4. Best wishes and prayers from Kalluveettil Family Ekm North,
    Kochi.

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  5. P P Kailasanathan1 October 2022 at 10:29

    A very befitting gift to all the tiny tots through the affable and loving Mariah and Serah, from their grandfather.Very interesting and inquisitive article .

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  6. God bless abundantly Mariah and Serah, and their grandparents.... ๐Ÿ˜Š

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  7. Lovely!Happy Birthday to Serah!! Wish you all great times.

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  8. Anne Chowdhary: Children blessed to have a dad nd grand dad like you ๐Ÿ˜

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  9. Sathi Govindankutty1 October 2022 at 13:34

    Beautifully written! God bless!

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  10. Great read… really interesting to know the real strong behind this very popular nursery school rhyme…continue your great journey to unravel the unknown mysteries of life around us… all the best
    Boban

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  11. You are blessed

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  12. Nice article uncle! Happy Birthday to Serah๐Ÿ˜Š๐ŸŽ‰๐ŸฅณREEBA

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  13. MARY SHERIN:๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป

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  14. CHECHINI JACOB:Nicely written.Happy birthday Maria and lots of love Serah. I used to dream a lot about Mary and her little lamb. When we were small we were in a government school. These rhymes were introduced by Amma. she used to read fairy tales and rhymes from " Book of knowledge ". we had twelve volumes of these. I fondly remember her now.

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  15. A very sweet and interesting piece. Enjoyed reading. Gr8 Jaison

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  16. JOMY JOSEPH: Awesome birthday gift to Serah.They will cherish this for ever.

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  17. THERE IS A STORY BEHIND RNG A RING A ROSES TOO...MURALI

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  18. V G THOMAS:Very nice finding and you narrated it very beautifully. I and a few among us never knew this nursery rhyme has such an amazing history behind it.
    Thank you so much Jaison.
    Also our Best Wishes to our little Serah on her birthday.

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  19. Patrick Devarev
    Happy Birthday Serah ๐ŸŽ‰๐ŸŽ‚๐ŸŽˆ

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  20. Hafez Abdel Gawad Hafez
    Happy Birthday Serah

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  21. Jayaprakas Skaria
    Happy Birthday, Serah

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  22. Kattapuram Oommen
    You are blessed

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  23. Francis John Britto
    Hap , Hap , Happy Birthday Serah molu and Stay Blessed

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  24. Joseph Pulikottil
    Happy birthdร y serah kunja

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  25. Prince Manjalil
    Happy Birthday Serah!

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  26. Shirly George
    Adorable ...๐Ÿฅฐ๐ŸฅฐJaison uncle,Thankyou for the new insight to the famous poem...very interesting...☺️

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  27. Sunny Cherian
    Nice picture. Very lively ๐Ÿ˜

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  28. An interesting article and also it's a best gift from you to Serah. For sure she will cherish this one. A very happy birthday to her.

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  29. *Maria and Serah - Mary had a little lamb*
    A unique topic - a very befitting gift to the grand children by grandfather expressing the scorching love towards Maria and Serah, symbolically exhuming old nursery rhymes Mary had a little lamb. Reveal information that this was the first recorded human voice in the first phonograph invented by Edison in 1877. You established hegemony among grandfathers in manifesting affection to grand children by dedicating this article to them. Really a shot in the arm. Lucidly explained the orginal story stemming from Mary Elizabeth and further vicissitudes especially regarding the orgin of the poem Mary had a little lamb - and further controversy between Mary Swayer and Serah Hale. Finally, since you could not find the mentioning the name of lamb anywhere in records you are exhorting to the readers, nothing in this world is trivial and silly, every event is a prognostication of a significant thing to happen at a later date.

    Let the inexhaustible divinity spread its blessings on Maria and Serah to become the most favourable children of God to have long healthy, prosperous and blissful life.
    You have again remonstrated you are a wizard in excavating historical information with creativity arousing the inquisitiveness and imagination of readers.
    Congratulations
    AVM Nair

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