Relationship poetry, Hour by Carol Ann Duffy

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The plot

Hour is about the quality of spending time with a loved one.

The poem suggest that even just being with a person for an hour is a precious and special time.

Also presents the traditional idea of time being an obstacle of love.

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Hour follows the traditional structure of a sonnet, fourteen lines and a predictable rhyming scheme.


Sonnets often use a final rhyming couplet to show the message of the sonnet,

Duffy offers confirmation of the idea that love will always triumph.

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Hour has many references to money and riches, contrasting the concept of material wealth and possessions against love and time spent with a loved one.

The traditional things that you get for lovers, wine and flowers, have been replaced by a romantic setting - the grass ditch and the summer sky.

They enjoy the "Midas light", Midas was a King whose touch turned things to gold. Further imagery of treasure.

"For thousands of seconds we kiss" - makes it seem like a long time, time is slowing down for them, a treasure to be counted specifically.

 The hour spent in the golden light makes them feel like "millionaires" and like they have power over the darkness to keep it away.

Contrast between romantic imagery and normal, "grass ditch", "flowers" - "jewel", "cuckoo spit"These contrasts emphasise the romance of the lovers' time together. Traditional ideas are shown to be unimportant compared to the personal experience of the two characters.

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Frequent references to light are also made, suggests a warm, positive environment. Rather than dwelling on the darkness of separation the lovers make the most of the time they have together. You could say they are making the light out of a dark situation.

In the final stanza there is a single-word sentence "Now.". It is simple, like the lovers' situation, and yet has a strong sense of being complete; nothing more is needed. It celebrates the moment rather than dwelling on the future or the past.

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Attitudes, themes and ideas

  • Traditional view of love versus time is shown in this poem.
  • "Time hates love."
  • "love spins gold, gold, gold from straw", Duffy alludes to the fairytale character Rumpelstiltskin, able to transform straw into gold. This reference adds a magical feel to the closing lines. It is an image that sums up the key theme: love can find riches in anything
  • It is a reminder that materials can not replace the pleasure of spending time with a loved one.
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Sonnet 116, To His Coy Mistress, In Paris With You:

  • Like Hour, Sonnet 116 makes reference to the idea of the battle between love and time, as does To His Coy Mistress.
  • To His Coy Mistress is about the value of being in the present and enjoying the moment, rather than thinking ahead - the same key theme as Hour.
  • Like Hour, In Paris with You also rejects traditional ideas associated with love.
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