Lavender's blue, dilly dilly, lavender's green,
When I am king, dilly dilly, you shall be queen.
Did you know that the English name for the herb dill comes from the Anglo-Saxon verb dillen, meaning 'to lull'? I learnt that this morning from Jenny Uglow's book, A Little History of British Gardening. And because the mind is a wonderful thing, mine immediately leaped to the rhyme above, and I realised for the first time every that "dilly dilly" wasn't just put in there as a nonsense filler, but because the song is a lullaby.
This little fact pleased me enormously, because I love words. I also love the way that all facets of home life are woven together through time, and particularly way back in time. How to explain what I mean?
Without words we couldn't communicate with our families. A simple Anglo-Saxon word brings together a lullaby for babies, a herb with soothing qualities, the garden in which that herb grows and the baby plays, and the book which I read for relaxation in that same garden. Not to mention the whole history of the cultivation of that herb and all its uses. Threads running through the home also spread out into the surrounding world - home is the foundation of that world.
Who told you so, dilly dilly, who told you so?
'Twas mine own heart, dilly dilly, that told me so.