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Dandelion clocks, Halton

Author: A Beck


by William Shakespeare

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.

When I was at school, I had a very good English teacher who opened my eyes to Shakespeare and the beauty of his writing. Some years later, I heard someone on the radio explaining that 'Golden Lads' is the Warwickshire name for dandelions when they are in flower. Suddenly the song made sense (I had always been a bit perplexed as to where the chimney sweep came in) and ever since whenever I see dandelion clocks, this comes to my mind.

I also remember a local naturalist telling me that if dandelions were rare, folk would travel miles to see a field of them in full bloom. He was right: they are one of my favourite flowers.

The whole song is a beautiful elegy which somehow has a timeless, comforting quality about the impermanence of all things.

The accompanying photograph was taken in April 2020 during one of the many walks we took from home, when there seemed to be rather more time to appreciate such things.

Alison Beck