“I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine.”
― William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream
Thirty-eight plays, 154 sonnets, a couple of long-form narrative poems, and a few odds and ends. William Shakespeare was not only prolific, but his work has stood the test of time. He’s considered the greatest writer of the English language, and we often quote him without even realizing it.
Even if you aren’t a fan, there’s no denying that Shakespeare had a way with words.
When you read this snippet from William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, can you picture the bank with the wild thyme, oxlips, and violet? What about the canopy above them of woodbine, musk-roses, and eglantine?
I have to admit I didn’t know anything about most of those flowers, so I did a little research for this post. I found out that wild thyme is strongly scented, woodbine is English honeysuckle, the musk-rose smells like, well, musk, and the leaves of the eglantine smell like apples.
Now, what I love about this little piece of poetry is that even though I didn’t know most of these flowers, I could still picture the scene because of the way it’s written. I could see the beauty there on that bank. I could imagine the colors and shapes of the flowers, feel the breeze that’s blowing them, and inhale their heady fragrances.
Poetry--good writing--can do that. It can draw you in; it can show you something you’ve never seen before; it can ignite your imagination so that your mind fills in the details. You don’t have to actually be there, because in your mind, you already are.
Do you have favorite passages from a poem or a book that pull you into the scene that's being described? Let me know in the comments below.
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Photo courtesy of Luke Barnard | Unsplash.