Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Our Hours

I always liked the pun of ours and hours. It means, to me, all we have, all that is ours, is some mere little numbered morsels of time. What’s ours is hours.

I recently bought an edition of The Hours of Catherine of Cleves. I loved the novel La Princesse de Cleves by Madame de Lafayette; but there is no obvious link. The Hours consist of miniatures, many linked to the canonical hours of matins, lauds, prime, tierce, sext, vespers and compline. Prime is dawn not TV Time. In Islam, do the devout not turn to Mecca and pray five times daily? In this Christian tradition of prayer, you have seven times to pray.

There’s W. H. Auden’s Horae Canonicae and Anne Carson’s Men in the Off Hours.

We seem to make a fetish of the odd hour, of the eleventh hour. Quitting time is 5:00PM. Christ died one Friday at 3:00 PM, or so I was informed by nuns in Catholic school. Catholics still teach the seven virtues and the seven deadly sins; and for the same reason, no doubt, there are seven days each and every week.


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