A comparison of structure, poetic/language devices and themes between ‘Hour’ and ‘Sonnet 116’ Both ‘Hour’ and ‘Sonnet 116’ were written 500 years apart, yet both of these poems explore the significant characteristics of love and time. Both poems explore that time and love does not match. But in ‘Sonnet 116’ love is the dominant figure from time and in ‘Hour’ time is the dominant figure from love. In the poem, ‘Hour’, Carol Ann Duffy is talking about how one ‘Hour’ of their day can be spent as if they have all the time in the world.

Using the tales of Rumpelstiltskin and King Midas, Duffy has managed to compare time and love in very different ways. This sonnet is a typical sonnet: it has 14 lines, it talks of love and it has a rhyming couplet at the end. Duffy has decided to put a rhyming couplet at the end because it is like a conclusion to the story being told in the sonnet: ‘than here. Now. Time hates love, wants love poor but love spins gold, gold, gold from straw’. In ‘Sonnet 116’ it is a typical Shakespearean sonnet and the rhyming couplet is indented to show a ‘full-stop’ of the poem.

The effect of these rhyming couplets are to let the reader know that no matter how much time hates love, love will keep on making gold constantly hence the repetition of the word ‘gold’ and that love is not a fool of time respectively. Another structural feature is the rhyme scheme. The rhyme scheme in ‘Sonnet 116’ is ABABABABABABAA. Likewise the rhyme scheme for ‘Hour’ is ABABABABABABAA. The effect of this is to show how each of the poems has a consistent relationship running throughout the poems. Also there is enjambment in the poem from lines 5-14 of ‘Hour’, ‘For thousands of seconds we kiss…….. gold from straw’.

This enjambment gives the reader the impression that the poem is one continuous story and that there is, again, a consistent, unbroken relationship. However the enjambment does not flow continuously in ‘Sonnet 116’. Here the enjambment is broken up in different sections but it is squashed together from lines 4-14, ‘Which alters when it alteration finds…. I never writ nor no man ever loved’. In terms of language, ‘Sonnet 116’ is different entirely from ‘Hour’. In ‘Sonnet 116’, the majority of the lines have 10 syllables (iambic pentameter) whereas in ‘Hour’, there are mixed numbers of syllables in each line.

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In comparison there could be a hidden part of the poem ‘‘Hour’’ that we do not know about but in ‘Sonnet 116’ we can clearly tell that the writer is putting his point forward using iambic pentameter. Another language device is the use of personification. In ‘Sonnet 116’ the writer uses personification to personify love, ‘It is the star to every wand’ring bark, Love’s not Time’s fool, it is an ever fixed mark’. Nevertheless, in ‘Hour’ the personification is used to personify light, love and time, ‘Love’s time’s beggar, the Midas light turning your limbs to gold’.

The personification gives the reader as if they are reading a direct human out of a book. Another language device is the use of similes and metaphors. The poem ‘Hour’ includes similes and metaphors such as, ‘Love’s time’s beggar, bright as a dropped coin, like treasure on the ground, we are millionaires’. By way of contrast, ‘Sonnet 116’ really has no similes and metaphors. This tells us that ‘Hour’ is using strong language to convey the feelings towards another woman, whereas ‘Sonnet 116’ uses simple language and that the writer wants to keep to the point.

Imagery is strong in both poems; ‘Sonnet 116’ uses imagery of time, danger, guidance and security, ‘O no it is an ever fixed mark, love’s not time’s fool’. On the contrary, ‘Hour’ uses imagery of time as a whole throughout the poem, ‘Love’s time’s beggar, we find an ‘Hour’ together, for thousands of seconds we kiss, time slows, our shining ‘Hour’. Imagery helps the reader to imaging what the story of the poem is using imaginary pictures. In terms of themes, ‘Sonnet 116’ and ‘Hour’ are also different entirely. ‘Sonnet 116’ explores the theme of love and how it is not fooled by time, hence the phrase ‘Love’s not time’s fool’.

It also explores the feelings of Shakespeare in the form of a sonnet and is also describing what love is and isn’t. Alternatively, in ‘Hour’ the poem explores the theme of love in the time-span of one hour. But what Duffy is trying to get to us is that no matter how much time there is, love always conquers in the end, hence the phrase ‘Love’s time’s beggar’. ‘Sonnet 116’ concludes itself when the writer makes an assertion of truth about love. This is another theme explored in the poem. In ‘Hour’ the writer concludes by saying that if time hates love then let it be because love can spin ‘gold, gold, gold from straw’.

In my opinion, the poem ‘Hour’ is very positive about time but then again it is negative in terms of love. In ‘Sonnet 116’ however, it is positive about love but then again it is negative in terms of time. Both poems are completely varied in terms of structure and language, but the themes are very nearly the same. They explore relationships of love, have evidence of personification, similes and metaphors and have consistent rhyme schemes. But the only difference is the structure (enjambment, syllables, words per line).


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