The eternal sunshine of the spotless mind: Cymbeline, gilded youth and dandelions

Treasure that once was lost has now been found. Does it enhance our appreciation of the song in Cymbeline, “Fear no more the heat o’ the sun,” to discover that “golden lads and lasses” are, in the argot of rural Warwickshire, dandelions? Or, furthermore, that chimney sweepers are the grey puffball seedheads of dandelions when the golden flowers go over?

golden_ladsPerhaps. However, some Shakespeareans are truly troubled by the notion that this insight (restored to us in the 1960s) had been lost to us for… well, that’s just the point… for how long? Was this multi-level metaphor lost even on London audiences of the early 1600s? Was it (to formulate this modest proposal even more bluntly) an in-joke flattering to the sensibilities of but a few in Stratford?

That thought, pursued to its ultimate ends, leads some of us to unsettling conclusions – conclusions about just how much of what we read we really understand at all. In other words, dear reader, that the sol in solipsism is not necessarily the sun.

dandelion_print_by_SuperfolkAnyway… no apologies for finding an excuse to showcase this glorious print from Superfolk.

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