Hour by Carol Ann Duffy

Oliver Renwick
Mind Map by Oliver Renwick, updated more than 1 year ago
Oliver Renwick
Created by Oliver Renwick over 6 years ago


Mind Map on Hour by Carol Ann Duffy, created by Oliver Renwick on 11/18/2013.

Resource summary

Hour by Carol Ann Duffy
1 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. Line three puns on the word "spend", and is typical of the way in which the poem investigates the themes of love and money:
2 The traditional territory of lovers ("Flowers" and "wine") is replaced by alternatives: for example, "a grass ditch" is an improbable romantic location. There is simplicity and perfection to "the whole of the summer sky", an image rich in meaning, a visual feast for a loving couple lying down together and looking up. They enjoy the "Midas light". (Midas was the mythical king whose touch turned things to gold.)
3 As the poem's title suggests, time is an important consideration for the lovers. "For thousands of seconds we kiss" is a striking phrase, offering the idea of excess - "thousands" - with the limitation of available time, measured in seconds. This precise measurement indicates how precious time is to the speaker, a "treasure" to be carefully counted.
4 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 millionaires, 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, giving the lovers immense joy and wealth.
5 There is a contrast between images traditionally seen as romantic (or associated with wealth) and the ordinary: "Flowers" and "grass ditch" compare to a "jewel" and "cuckoo spit" (insect eggs left on long grass); "sunlight" contrasts with a "chandelier"; "gold" contrasts with "straw". 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.
6 Hour also makes frequent references to images of light in contrast to the night and the darkness of inevitable separation. These include: "Bright", "summer sky", "Midas light", "shining hour", "candle", "chandelier or spotlight". Duffy uses light to suggest a positive, warm, optimistic liaison. Rather than dwelling on the darkness of separation the lovers make the most of the time they have together.
7 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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