Word Ways


A. Ross Eckler


A century and three quarters after "Mary Had a Little Lamb" was published, residents of Sterling, Massachusetts and Newport, New Hampshire are still arguing over the ownership of this famous little ditty about the faithful lamb and unwelcoming schoolteacher. According to Sterling, the Mary of the poem was a girl named Mary Sawyer, born there in 1806. One day in 1815 her devoted lamb followed her to school and up the classroom aisle when she was asked to recite a lesson. The teacher, alas, turned the lamb out.