What is Hour about?
Hour is about the feelings that aris from spending time with a loved one. The poem suggests that to be with a loved one, even just for an hour, is precoius and valuable. It aslo presents the traditional idea of time as an obstacle to lovers
Structure of Hour
Follows the structure of a shakespearean sonnet; it has 14 lines, predictable rhyme scheme and uses iambic pentameter. Sonnets often end using a rhyming couplet to offer a 'turn' in the meaning; however Duffy only offers a partial turn, which is confirmation of the idea that love will always triumph by finding unlikely sources of value.
Language in reference to wealth
- Pun on the word 'spend' (line 3), contrasting the concept of material wealth and possessions agianst love and time spent with a loved one.
- The pleasure and riches that the couple gather in an hour allow them to feel as if they are frozen in time "time slows, for here we are millionairs, backhanding the night". The hour spent together in the golden light gives them a sense of power, making them feel as if they can bribe the darkness to hold back.
Traditional couple activities replaced
- The traditional terrirory of lovers "flowers" "wine" is replaced by alternatives "a grass ditch" is an improbable romantic location.
- There is a contrast between images of romance (associated to wealth) and the ordinary: "Flowers" and "Grass ditch" compare to a "jewel" and "Cuckoo spit"; "sunlight contrasts with a "Chandelier"; "Gold contrasts with "strraw". These contrasts emphisise that traditional ideas are shown to be unimportant compared to the personal experience of the two characters.
Exact time measurements
Time is an important consideration for the lovers."For thousands of hours we kiss", offering the idea of excess- "thousands"- with the limitation od avalible time, measured in seconds. This precious time is to the speaker, a "treasure" to be carefully counted.
References to images of light
References of images of light in contrast to the night and the darkness of inevitable seperation. These include: "Bright", "summer sky", "Midas light", "shining hour", "candle", "chandelier or spotlight". Duffy uses light to suggest a positive, warm, optimistic liaison. Rather then dweling on the darkness of seperation the lovers make the most of the time they have together.
In the final stanza there is a single-word sentence "Now.". It is simple, like the lovers relationship and yet there is a strong sence of completion; nothing moe is needed. It celebrates living in the moment and not dwelling on the past or future.
The battle of love vs time is boldly represented "Time hates love", infering that time will triumph, forcing a seperation. Instead "love spins gold, gold, gold from straw", alludes to the charecter Rumplestiltskin, who is able to transform straw to gold. It adds to the theme that love can find riches in anything, but Rumplestilskin was greedy and this could infer that they are waisting time and that they are too obsessed with one anouther.
Overall meaning of the poem
To enjoy the intimacy of a moment in time rather than thinking about the world beyond it. The simple nature of the experience is a reminder that material possessions cannot replace something as magical as time spent with a loved one.
- Sonnet 116- "Loves time's beggar" "Love's not Times fool", battle between love and time
- To His Coy Mistress- the value of being in the present and enjoying the moment
- In Paris with You- Rejects the traditional ideas of love