Act 4, Scene 5
Ophelia: There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance; pray, love, remember; and there is pansies, that is for thoughts… There’s fennel for you, and columbines, there’s rue for you and here’s some for me; we may call it herb of grace o’ Sundays. O you must wear your rue with a difference. There’s a daisy. I would give you some violets, but they wither’d all when my father died. They say he made a good end. – (sings) “For bonny sweet Robin is all my joy”
Ophelia’s rambling, somewhat confused speech refers to symbolic flower associations all related to the circumstances surrounding her father’s death. She begins with rosemary it seems, not for memories, but because she knows that it along with the other plants she mentions help to relieve pain of the heart. Her reference to remembrance translates to an English funeral tradition where those grieving laid rosemary bunches onto their loved one’s coffins as a symbol that they would never forget.
I’m not sure how the idea that rosemary will help with memory retention or recall became so intertwined with this quote, but tradition and modern science support it. Rosemary’s chemical constituents increase the uptake of cellular oxygen in the brain to support and stimulate memory. Herbalists know it as a vital formula ingredient for mental clarity.
I invite you to do your own experiment. You can easily make these truffles; the hardest part is collecting the herb powders. I promise the research will also be delicious.
Last, as I write this, the current world chaos and constant tragedy pull my heart to sadness over and over. I identify with Ophelia’s madness, despair, and grief. I’m not sure what else there is to say.