Monday, 9 January 2012

Chimney-Sweepers

'Fear no more the heat o' the 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...'

So begins the beautiful funeral song from Cymbeline. What I didn't know, until I came across it in Richard Mabey's book Weeds (which I'm reading now, with great enjoyment), is that 'chimney-sweepers' was, in Shakespeare's time, 'Warwickshire patois for the wind-scattered, time-telling "clocks" that follow dandelions' golden flowers'. Suddenly, with this knowledge, Shakespeare's image gains new depths of meaning, and new immediacy.

5 comments:

  1. Lovely, Nige, isn't it? Here was my take almost five years ago:

    http://evidenceanecdotal.blogspot.com/2007/04/thirty-seven-words.html

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  2. Thank you, Nigeness. This was something I didn't know and I am glad to have a new perspective. Always something to learn from Mr Shakespeare!

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  3. I love reading your chimney-sweepers it indeed rhymed, and it's good. I'm also glad reading your other articles, and I find your blog informative too.

    chimney service

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