Appalachia Rhymes

Green Grass

Game called green grass

Walking up the green grass,
Raising heavy dust,
He wants a pretty girl
Who walks along with us.

I’ll take this pretty girl;
I’ll take her by the hand.

She shall go to London,
London in the land.

She shall have a pretty duck;
She shall have a drake.

She shall have a nice young man,
A-fighting for her sake.

*Rhyme from game played by children in NC in the early 1900s.


Green Grass was a popular children’s game in Scotland. I’m guessing it was brought to North Carolina by the Scots-Irish who settled in the mountains and a variation of the original game was still around in the early 1900s. Have you ever heard of the game or the rhyme?


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  • Reply
    patricia l.grant
    June 8, 2021 at 6:53 pm

    As a child in 1949, we played “Walking up the Green Grass” with a twist -“What you walking here for”‘ Walking here to get married – who you gonna marry- I’m gonna marry “susie” – then it goes on to say now we lost another friend. and the game continued until all were on the other side and only one left…..I don’t know where it came from, but we enjoyed it at recess.

  • Reply
    February 10, 2014 at 7:33 pm

    This is a new one for me. I can see where it could be a fun circle game, like a tisket-a-basket!

  • Reply
    Suzi Phillips
    February 10, 2014 at 2:43 pm

    No green grass on White Oak today!

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    February 10, 2014 at 1:45 pm

    I never heard of ‘Green Grass’, and
    don’t have much knowledge about the
    rhymes of our forefathers and their
    birthplaces. Most of ’em though knew
    how to work and play in a world that
    didn’t have much…Ken

  • Reply
    Mary Lou McKillip
    February 10, 2014 at 12:47 pm

    Tipper, I have not heard that one, but I like it. Keep up your resources they are of so much interest to us. thanks for much info.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    February 10, 2014 at 10:41 am

    I never heard of this game or rhyme for it. I did find it in my Children’s Rhymes, Games, songs Stories: A Book for Bairns and Big Folk…by Robert Ford
    It is called,
    “A Dis, a Dis, a Green Grass”
    It says there are different forms of the game, both in Scotland and England, if not also in other countries. All stand in a row. Two have been selected “it”, (so to speak) to start. The two hold hands, face each other and advancing and retiring the counting rhyme is applied.
    A dis, a dis, a green grass. A dis, a dis, a dis” Come all ye pretty fair maids, And dance along with us.
    For we are going a roving, Aroving o’er the land, We”ll take this pretty fair maid, We”ll take her by the hand. This sung, they select a girl from the group, who joins on either side, as she is directed, and the song continues, bearing now the comforting assurance to the one chosen.
    Ye shall have a duck, my dear, And ye shall have a beau; And ye shall have a young prince By chance to marry you.
    And if this young prince he should die, Then you will get another, And the birds will sing and the bells will ring, And we’ll all clap hands together.
    Having all joined in the last two verses, all clap hands together. And the same process is repeated again and again until the last of the “pretty fair maids”is taken over from the row, when the game is ended–though it may be but to begin again as the desire is expressed and supported!
    I personally think that children, would be bored to tears with this game nowadays..unless they were very, very young!…LOL
    Thanks Tipper,
    PS…Too cold to play outside today with a chance of snow by noon and a biggen’ by Tuesdays night!

  • Reply
    Marc Kruger
    February 10, 2014 at 9:57 am

    Did not hear of this until now. We played Red Rover, Ollie Ollie Oxen Free and Green Light Yellow Light Red Light. A game we played when older was Bang You’re Dead.

  • Reply
    February 10, 2014 at 9:51 am

    Tipper, I haven’t heard of it, but I loved it. Thank you for sharing this morning.
    Renea Winchester

  • Reply
    Judy Mincey
    February 10, 2014 at 8:31 am

    This one is new to me, also. I wonder what the game was?

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    February 10, 2014 at 8:07 am

    I’ve never heard it, what type of game did the children play? I really like it. Elementary and kindergartens should bring back some of these games.

  • Reply
    Eva Nell Mull Wike, PhD
    February 10, 2014 at 7:58 am

    Never! Never until this morning have I heard of this version of “Green Grass.” I can’t recall – at this moment – the ‘green grass’ rhyme we use to jump rope and sing. But I’ll bet that Ethelene can recall both these and more!
    With these snowy looking clouds and low temperatures, we need such wonderful recollections – as we sit by the fireside. Oops! I forgot I have to go outside and go swimming this morning! I don’t swim ‘outside’ but the temperature in the Civic Center pool hoovers around REALLY CHILLY!
    Stay warm!
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    February 10, 2014 at 7:57 am

    “Green Grass” is a new one to me. I guess my Scots-Irish ancestors who migrated from Wilkes County, NC (and prior to that from Virginia and Scotland or England) did not bring it with them to Choestoe. But it’s interesting to learn that rhymes other than the ones we knew were sung and played to “entertain yourself” games. Let’s say children were taught responsibility and hard work, and any respite in the form of singing and dancing games were good relief and enjoyable pasttimes.

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    February 10, 2014 at 7:48 am

    I never heard that one.
    We are getting hunkered down for another winter storm in Brevard, NC. There may be some sleet in this one. Hopefully, not too icy.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    February 10, 2014 at 7:18 am

    I’ve never heard of it Tip, but like Tim, I now red rover.
    Tipper, it occurs to me that you might want to see if Robin, the clay artist, would do a guest post. He is of Scots-Irish descent here in WNC and he has studied the history extensively.

  • Reply
    February 10, 2014 at 6:14 am

    Nope,, never heard of it,, anything outside of Red-Rover, was foreign to us..

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