Carol Ann Duffy: Hour
Carol Ann Duffy is the first female Poet Laureate (2009), and probably the best known female poet working in Britain today. She was born in 1955 in Glasgow. Duffy is well known for poems that give a voice to the dispossessed (people excluded from society); she encourages the reader to put themselves in the shoes of people they might normally dismiss. Her poetry often engages with the grittier and more disturbing side of life, using black humor like a weapon to make social and political points. Hour was published in the collection Rapture (2005) which explores the highs and lows of a romantic relationship.
Hour is about the feelings that arise from spending time with a loved one. The poem suggests that to be with a loved one, even for just an hour, is precious and valuable. It also presents the traditional idea of time as an obstacle to lovers.
Hour follows the structure of a Shakespearean sonnet [sonnet: A 14-line poem, usually written in iambic pentameter. Most sonnets conform to one of the following rhyme schemes: A-B-A-B C-D-C-D E-F-E-F G-G (English sonnet); or A-B-B-A A-B-B-A C-D-E C-D-E (Italian sonnet). ]: it has fourteen lines and a predictable rhyme scheme (a-b-a-b-c-d-c-d-e-f-e-f-g-g). Sonnets often use a final rhyming couplet [rhyming couplet: a pair of lines of poetry that rhyme and have the same length and metric pattern. ] 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.
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: We find an hour together, spend it not on flowers. Or wine, but the whole of the summer sky...
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