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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: April ::
Shakespeare's Flowers and Plants
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0793  Tuesday, 26A April 2005

From:           John Webb <
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Date:           Monday, 25 Apr 2005 08:54:07 +0100
Subject: 16.0774 Shakespeare's Flowers and Plants
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0774 Shakespeare's Flowers and Plants

 >Doctors, lawyers, scientists and the clergy have all claimed that
 >Shakespeare came from their ranks. So why not gardeners?

This subject is discussed in "Shakespeare's Imagery" by Caroline
Spurgeon, pp80-91. Here are a few extracts:

"One occupation, one point of view, above all others, is naturally his
[Shakespeare's], that of a gardener; watching, preserving, tending and
caring for growing things. All through his plays he thinks most easily
and readily of human life in terms of a gardener. The tendency to think
of matters human as of growing plants expresses itself in fullest detail
in Richard II (3.4), but is ever present in Shakespeare's thought and
imagination, so that nearly all his characters share in it... He is
repeatedly impressed, as all gardeners must be by the vitality and
strength of weeds, and he is continually conscious of a similar strength
and powers in the weeds and faults of human character... Nothing more
brings out his close knowledge of growing things than a comparison of
his gardening images with those of his contemporaries. In the first
place he has a great many more - proportionally - than they; and
secondly he shows a much closer knowledge of the growth and care of
plants... I do not find, in all my search of other dramatists any single
image of frosts and sharp winds nipping buds, which is so common in
Shakespeare, and not a trace of love or care for the plant, so
characteristic of him... In Richard III, the number of tree and garden
images is unusual even for Shakespeare, and the Royal house is
definitely thought of as a tree. The repeated use of the verbs plant,
pluck, crop, wither, as applied to the Royal house, shows how
continually this picture of a garden is in Shakespeare's mind."

In "The Renaissance Garden in England", by Sir Roy Strong, he writes:

"One of the threads of this book is the link between the Renaissance
garden in England and the Tudor idea of monarchy. The garden under
Elizabeth I becomes drawn into a network of symbolic royalist imagery.
It is a phenomenon deeply related to the cult of monarchy, dwelling upon
the almost magical powers of the sovereign over the physical universe."

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