A NEW DROP-DOWN ADDED TO ‘SUNDIALS IN ART’ FOR OCCASIONAL INCLUSION OF DIALS REFERENCED IN POETRY & LITERATURE
Rosalind: “I pray you, what is’t o’clock?”
Orlando: “You should ask me, what time o’ day; there’s no clock in the forest.”
A BIBLICAL SUNDIAL . ISAIAH 38.8
Behold, I will bring again the shadow of the degrees, which is gone down in the sun dial of Ahaz, ten degrees backward. So the sun returned ten degrees, by which degrees it was gone down. (KJV)
Context: Hezekiah, mortally ill, prays as a good man for recovery, and ‘wept sore’. The Lord messaged him via Isaiah that the prayer and tears had been noted and that his lifespan would be extended by 15 years. To prove His sincerity He performed the sundial trick. Hezekiah recovered and was duly grateful. [This is not to be confused with the turning back of time that Cher so ardently wished for]
An excellent collection of a dozen specific references to dials in Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets can be found on the North American Sundial Society website HERE
One good example given is from Romeo and Juliet Act II Scene IV during exchanges involving Romeo, Mercutio and the Nurse, during which Mercutio says “…for the bawdy hand of the dial is now upon the prick of noon”.
ANDREW MARVELL: THE GARDEN . 1681
The final stanza of his poem ‘The Garden’, published in 1681 and spelled accordingly. In effect, he is describing (imagining?) a Floral Dial, a concept made real in C18. The final 2 lines are sometimes used for sundial inscriptions.
How well the skilful Gardner drew
Of flow’rs and herbs this Dial new;
Where from above the milder Sun
Does through a fragrant Zodiack run;
And, as it works, th’ industrious Bee
Computes its time as well as we.
How could such sweet and wholsome Hours
Be reckon’d but with herbs and flow’rs!
CARL LINNAEUS (Carl Von Linné) . 1707 – 1778
This entry will be expanded in due course. Briefly, Linnaeus noted that plants open and close at certain times of day, corresponding approximately with solar time – HORA FLORIS. By aligning a dial plate and planting the right flowers, a FLOWER CLOCK could be created.
There’s so much more – and there are so many obvious variables – that I will return to this topic. Meanwhile you can read about the illustrated dial and even buy one HERE
THE SUNDIAL . SHIRLEY JACKSON . 1958
A novel I won’t be reading, but one with a sundial that is central to the plot: the eponymous sundial stands like an asymmetrical eyesore in the middle of the mathematically perfect grounds and bears the legend “WHAT IS THIS WORLD?” (cf Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, ‘The Knight’s Tale’).
The most off-putting review says the novel contains a great number of characters, none of whom are very sympathetic. An abundance of unpleasant characters – in addition to eleven main characters, there are several minor characters who appear throughout the novel as comic relief – populate the narrative.