Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Thoughts: Of Shakespeare, summer and sonnets

One of my favorite urban escapes is Shakespeare Garden, tucked away near the California Academy of Science and the de Young Fine Arts Museum in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. It's quiet, serene, and meditative. It's filled with shady trees and an abundance of pretty flowers. There's even a sun dial.

The garden is absolutely beautiful. I love, love, love it.

At the entrance to Shakespeare Garden
in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park.

As the number of remaining summer weekends can be counted on one hand, it only seems fitting to take time out from our hurried lives and think fondly of Shakespeare, sonnets and summer days.

Shakespeare Garden sun dial /
Count only sunny hours.

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate;
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date;

Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And too often is his gold complexion dimm'd;
And every fair from fair sometimes declines,
By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd;

By thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st:

So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this and this gives life to thee.

~ William Shakespeare, Sonnet 18

Of Shakespeare, summer and sonnets.

The history of Shakespeare Garden in Golden Gate Park dates back to 1928 and was the brainchild of Alice Eastwood, who served as the long-running director of botany for the Academy of Sciences. The California Spring Blossom and Wildflower Association originally established the space as the Garden of Shakespeare's Flowers.

Flowers and plants have always played an important tool of imagery throughout Shakespeare's literary masterpieces. In this Shakespeare Garden, there are over 200 flowers and plants dotting the beautiful and colorful landscape, including: poppies, mandrakes, daisies, violets, lilies and roses.

The quiet and the beauty inside Shakespeare Garden /
Standing near the back wall looking towards the entrance.

All photographs of Shakespeare Garden by Michael Dickens, copyright 2013.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the very felicitous suggestion, to while away an hour amidst beauty shared centuries ago by Shakespeare.

    For those of an historical turn of mind, John Gerard's 'Herbal', the definitive study of plants and flowers, to which the Shakespeare canon owes its specificity, was written in the service of and dedicated to the Earl of Oxford and his wife. The introduction, by Dr. George Baker, brings another Renaissance man into the Shakespeare picture. His translation of 'The Newe Jewell of Health', which summarized the tinctures, distillations, and treatments of medicine that found their way into Shakespeare's works, was also dedicated to Lord Oxford. Baker was Lady Oxford's physician. Shakespeare's knowledge of medicine, herbs, and plants is admired even today. The 17th Earl of Oxford, Edward de Vere, is being argued as the closest person in character, biography, education, and background to that of the author of the works written under the pseudonym Shakespeare. He must have learned whereof he wrote. many thanks, William Ray