Thursday, April 26, 2012

Shakespeare and Dandelions

From Shakespeare's play Cymbeline:
               "Fear no more the heat o' th' sun,
          Nor the furious winter's rages,
               Thou thy worldly task hast done,
          Home art gone and ta'en thy wages,
               Golden lads and girls all must,
          As chimney sweepers, come to dust." 
      The last two lines are an enigma, although to the Elizabethans they must have made sense to have been included in the play.  In fact they belong to the Warwickshire vernacular of the time; (Stratford-On-Avon of course is in Warwickshire.)
      Golden lads was the local name for dandelions, and chimneysweepers was the term for the dandelion when it is ready to spread its seeds to the wind like dust and when it looks like the brush that chimneysweeps used in times past.

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