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Cowslips: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Nature is entertaining us with wonderful displays of wild flowers this spring – some of the best we have seen in recent years. I particularly love to see the cowslip which always reminds me of a wonderful play William Shakespeare wrote, ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’,  and, in particular, that exquisite  scene  in the wood near Athens when Puck greets a fairy with the words:

How now spirit!  Whither wander you?

And the  fairy’s reply is pure magic:

Over hill, over dale
Thorough bush, thorough briar
Over park, over pale
Thorough flood, thorough fire
I do wander everywhere
Swifter than the moon’s sphere
And I serve the Fairy Queen
To dew her orbs upon the green.
The cowslip tall her pensioners be

In their gold coats, spots you see,

Those be rubies, fairy’s favours
In those freckles live their saviours
I must go seek dewdrops here
And hang a pearl in every cowslip’s ear.

Shakespeare loved looking at the  orange/red spots at the base of a cowslip’s petals. He describes them (the ‘saviours’) as the source of the flower’s feint scent.

The cowslip really caught the bard’s imagination and he in turn completely captures ours. And next time you see some cowslips, look at the orange spots, the ‘rubies, fairy’s favours’ inside.