What if Shakespeare…were a FLORIST?

Come in, come in to my flower shop, and I will tell you the secret to the variety you see – I know a bank where wild thyme blows, where oxlips and the nodding violet grows (1) and from there I gather the fairest flowers o’ the season (2).

Here are some roses damask’d, red and white (3), and though roses have thorns (4) their perfume always intrigues us, for that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet (5).

I have lilies of all kinds (6), which always bloom for want of rain (7), and flowers that get their colours from the presence of the sun (8): daisies pied and violets blue and lady-smocks all silver-white and cuckoo-buds of yellow hue (9). And look here, too, at hot lavender, mints, savoury, marjoram; the marigold, that goes to bed wi’ the sun and with him rises weeping (10).

Here in this corner are my herbs. There’s fennel for you, and columbines, there’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance, there’s rue for you; and here’s some for me: we may call it herb-grace o’ Sundays (11) – these keep seeming and savour all the winter long (12).

And last I have a special plot which to your eye may seem just baleful weeds and precious-juiced flowers (13). But look closer and see a plant pierced when the bolt of Cupid fell, before milk-white, now purple with love’s wound, And maidens call it love-in-idleness (14). This a rare and dangerous bloom: the juice of it on sleeping eye-lids laid will make or man or woman madly dote upon the next live creature that it sees (15). Danger also lies within the infant rind of this small flower [where] poison hath residence and medicine power: for this, being smelt, with that part cheers each part; being tasted, slays all senses with the heart (16).

(1) A Midsummer Night’s Dream II.i

(2) A Winter’s Tale IV.iv

(3) Sonnet 130

(4) Sonnet 35

(5) Romeo and Juliet II.ii

(6) A Winter’s Tale IV.iv

(7) A Midsummer Night’s Dream I.i

(8) A Midsummer Night’s Dream V.i

(9)Love’s Labour’s Lost V.ii

(10)A Winter’s Tale IV.iv

(11) Hamlet IV.v

(12)A Winter’s Tale IV.iv

(13) Romeo and Juliet II.iii

(14)A Midsummer Night’s Dream II.i

(15)A Midsummer Night’s Dream II.i

(16) Romeo and Juliet II.iii

by Martha Harbell

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