“To flourish in the touch and reach of light.”*

*line from Malcolm Guite’s sonnet “Michaelmas”.

Aster amellus, the European Michaelmas daisy, is a perennial herbaceous plant in the genus Aster of the family Asteraceae. Asters are valued in the garden for late summer and autumn colour in shades of blue, pink and white.

From the website Historic UK:

“Michaelmas, or the Feast of Michael and All Angels, is celebrated on the 29th of September every year. As it falls near the equinox, the day is associated with the beginning of autumn and the shortening of days; in England, it is one of the “quarter days”.

There are traditionally four “quarter days” in a year (Lady Day (25th March), Midsummer (24th June), Michaelmas (29th September) and Christmas (25th December)). They are spaced three months apart, on religious festivals, usually close to the solstices or equinoxes. They were the four dates on which servants were hired, rents due or leases begun. It used to be said that harvest had to be completed by Michaelmas, almost like the marking of the end of the productive season and the beginning of the new cycle of farming. It was the time at which new servants were hired or land was exchanged and debts were paid. This is how it came to be for Michaelmas to be the time for electing magistrates and also the beginning of legal and university terms.”

From the website of Talking Trees Books:

“Giving a Michaelmas Daisy symbolised saying farewell.

In parts of Scotland there is a custom of baking a special bread or cake, called St Michael’s bannock, or Michaelmas Bannock on the eve of the Feast of Saint Michael day. The bread was made from equal parts of barley, oats, and rye and no metal tool could be used in its making. (The bannocks) were made in remembrance of absent friends or those who had died.”

From the website Britannica:

“…The crucial innovations in satiric comedy were made by Ben Jonson, Shakespeare’s friend and nearest rival, who stands at the fountainhead of what subsequently became the dominant modern comic tradition…

Of Jonson’s successors in city comedy,…

Only in the city comedies of Thomas Middleton was Jonson’s moral concern with greed and self-ignorance bypassed, for Middleton presents the pursuit of money as the sole human absolute and buying and selling, usury, law, and the wooing of rich widows as the dominant modes of social interaction. His unprejudiced satire touches the actions of citizen and gentleman with equal irony and detachment; the only operative distinction is between fool and knave, and the sympathies of the audience are typically engaged on the side of wit, with the resourceful prodigal and dexterous whore. His characteristic form, used in Michaelmas Term (1605) and A Trick to Catch the Old One (1606), was intrigue comedy, which enabled him to portray his society dynamically, as a mechanism in which each sex and class pursues its own selfish interests. He was thus concerned less with characterizing individuals in depth than with examining the inequalities and injustices of the world that cause them to behave as they do. His The Roaring Girl (c. 1608) and A Chaste Maid in Cheapside (1613) are the only Jacobean comedies to rival the comprehensiveness of Bartholomew Fair, but their social attitudes are opposed to Jonson’s; the misbehaviour that Jonson condemned morally as “humours” or affectation Middleton understands as the product of circumstance.”

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