ROSEMARY [ Rosemarinus officinalus ]

An herb used for seasoning, in preservatives, and in perfumes, rosemary is an evergreen and was long regarded as a symbol of eternity. The Romans planted it near tombs and used it as a token of remembrance in bridal wreaths, in garlands worn by guests at banquets, and for adorning household gods. In northern England it was employed in funeral rites and at Christmas time to decorate halls of feasting.

“For you there’s rosemary and rue; these keep
Seeming and savour all the winter long:
Grace and remembrance be to you both,...”

The Winter’s Tale (IV, iv, 74–7)

“As for Rosemarie, I let it run all over my garden walls, not only because my bees love it, but because it is the herb sacred to remembrance, and, therefore, to friendship; whence a spray of it hath a dumb language that maketh it a chosen emblem at our funeral-wakes and in our burial-grounds.” — Sir Thomas More (1478–1535)

Ophelia offers rosemary to her brother Laertes in memory of their dead father.

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