*Posted by Kirk Spencer

On the eve of the newest year, I have been thinking about clocks and calendars; and how they divide up our days. I learned in school that it is the fault of the mechanized timepieces we wear on our wrist and carry in our pockets. However, I changed my mind (somewhat) when I came across this fragment of text, written more than two thousand years before wristwatches:

The gods confound the man who first found out
How to distinguish hours! Confound him, too,
Who in this place set up a sun-dial,
To cut and hack my days so wretchedly
Into small portions. When I was a boy,
My belly was my sun-dial; one more sure,
Truer, and more exact than any of them.
This dial told me when twas proper time
To go to dinner, when I had aught to eat.
But now-a-days, why even when I have,
I cant fall-to, unless the sun give leave

Titus Maccius Plautus c.200 B.C.
fragment from The Boeotian Woman
(trans. John C. Rolfe)

Upon reading this ancient fragment, with its prescient perspective, I composed a short poem attempting to trace time through timeor at least our attempts to measure it.


Rising morningtide
With winters solstice
Nights changing moon
The sundials shadow flows
As dripping water from the bowl
Slipping sand through necks of glass
To capture most mysterious and slippery Time
Within the even deeper mysteries of gravity and light
But a clock of gears and cogs
Does not flow, but strokes
Unravels the cycles
Of seasons and suns
From sight to sounds precision
List and hear its incessant tick-tock
As hour o heaven becomes hour oclock
And iron hammers out our hours so logical
As our spinning wheels make escapements fall
Dividing our days into the bars of our cage
To feed us all at the proper time
Fattened for the slaughter, feel the grind
Only to know where we are in the day
Resounding brass of last stroke fades
Fades into the setting eveningtide
When we will mark our time
With pendulous breath
And the beating cog within
Then to the tolling, no longer listen
But only with the clocks permission

Heavenly Father: Help me to remember to rest. And to forget, on occasion, what has to be done, so that I can remember what You have already done. In each movement of the clock, I recognize Your mercy. Help me to make the most of your mercy and my days. And, in my works and days, may I use my calendars and clocks, but obey only You.

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