Saturday, September 18, 2010

SUNDIALS, POEMS, AND TIME -- Sunday Simplicities

(Located at Garrard County Historical Society)
If you are like me, you don't wear a watch. I seem to manage alright through the day with swift glances intermittently at my stove clock. If you aren't like me you probably wear a watch. All this 'time watching" began with a type of mechanical measurement called the  sundial which was invented specifically to tell time in 1500 BC.  Today, one can find sundials in all shapes and forms to tell accurate time, from pocket size to large sizes usually found in parks. 

Before clocks and watches, folks depended on some type of sun dial or some natural  sun and shade based design, such as with sticks or stones placed on the ground to get an idea of  time passing. Other means could be used such as simply being deeply in touch with mother earth. Time as we know it now, and then, reflects our inner sense of  its fleeting nature. 

The sundial form most folks are familiar with is the garden variety, the photo above is an example. Usually made with artistic style, especially the older ones, they lend a lovely ambiance to the yard. 


One artistic aspect of a sundial that I especially like is the poetry and prose associated with it. On the outer edge of the sundial above are the words; Count none but the sunny hours.

Henry Van Dyke (1852 - 1933) made a few contributions to sundial poems. I find them thoughtful. I will close my post with two of his poems below. 

Sun Dial At Wells College

The shadow of my finger cast

Divides the future from the past

Before it, sleeps the unborn hour.

In darkness, and beyond thy power

Beyond its unrelenting line,

The vanished hour, no longer thine.

One hour alone in thy hands --

The NOW on which the shadow stands. 


Katrina's Sundial

Hours fly

Flowers die

New days

New ways

Pass by

Love stays

Additional information links
Helga Nordhoff website 


  1. Also sundials have a moral purity -- they are oblivious to the daylight saving time silliness. It there's sun to light them, they tell us truth.

  2. June -- beautifully said. A sundial is truly linked to its ancient celestial origins. -- barbara

  3. What a nice post. Very thoughtful verses. I have a sundial quite like the one shown. It says "I record only sunny hours". Seems like a good policy.

  4. barefootheart -- Your sundial verse is similar. I've always been drawn to sundials since I was young. But, still to this day, I don't own one. Maybe someday. I imagine you really enjoy your sundial. Thanks for the comment -- barbara

  5. I have always adored sundials and we have had one for many years. Our old one said 'Grow old along with me; the best is yet tobe (Browning.) Our newer one doesn't say anything.

  6. Vicki -- the old sayings on sundials are so appropriate to celestial time. How wonderful that you have had two different sundials! -- barbara

  7. Sundials are so fascinating to me. I really should get one for my garden. Lovely piece.

    (I used to wear my watch 24x7, but somewhere along the line decided not to)

  8. willow -- I, like you, am thinking of getting a sundial for my yard. As the older ones are the most beautiful -- this is what I will shoot for. Funny how one can give up a watch and find they can function just fine without it.

  9. I haven't worn a watch in years, and I used to be good at judging time. Now my mobile phone has taken over that function, I would be less confident. I have never thought about or noticed sundial poetry. I am going to be on the lookout for it now. Thanks for the inspiration and a lovely post.

  10. LiD I know what you mean when you mention that without your watch you became naturally in tune with time. It happens to many folks who do not wear a watch. Sundials are ancient, as are we, on the evolutionary scale. They are nature based as are we and therefore much of the writings about sundials reflect this. Thanks for the comment -- barbara