Music essayist Noah Lefevre of Polyphonic explored the dark origins of well known nursery rhymes that are still being sung today. He elaborated on subject as to why so many nursery rhymes are so creepy.
LeFevre notes that nursery rhymes, such as “Mary, Mary Quite Contrary”, “London Bridge is Falling Down”, and “Ring Around the Rosie”, don’t necessarily line up with history but rather take their references from literature and folklore.
“While these dark histories might be exaggerated they’re likely born out of a kernel of truth. Plenty of nursery rhymes undoubtedly do have meanings that have been lost to us today and that’s because of the way nursery rhymes operate as traditions of folklore.”
He also takes into account the fact that the idea of childhood changed over the past century. Children of today have been given more adult roles in society.
He explained, "Nursery rhymes are meant to be simple and playful. They’re meant to reinforce the cultural roles that children have in society, so when they’re removed from this context and inverted put into situations that reflect darkness and the threat of violence the effect can be chilling. It’s worth noting that this conception of children as being pure and innocent is actually a relatively modern invention. For a lot of human history children were treated a lot more like small adults.”