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Today is World Book Day - you hadn't realized? Neither did I, until this afternoon. Still, I'm all in favor of celebrating such things. Books are good. Carpe diem.

After all, time is fleeting. Read a book today, for you might not have time for it tomorrow.

And why, may you ask, does does vanitas weight on my mind today? It's because I'm working through ever so many images of hourglasses, mechanical clocks, and personifications of time.

Make use of Time, that's coming on;
For, that is perish'd, which is gone.



This Glasse declares, how Time doth passe away;
And, if the Words, about it, rightly say,
Thy Time that's gone, is lost: and, proofe will shew,
That, many find both Words, and Emblem true.
How fast their Time departs, they best perceive,
From whom it steales, before they take their leave,
Of what they love; and, whose last houre is gone,
Before their chiefest businesses are done.

How fast it slides, ev'n they are also taught,
(Too late, perhaps) who never kept in thought
Their ending-day; but, alwayes did presume,
Or, largely hope upon the Time to come;
The present-howres, nor thankfully enjoying,
Nor, hoestly, nor usefully employing.

That yeares expir'd, are lost, they likewise find:
For, when their understanding brings to mind,
How fondly (or, how ill perchance) they spent
Their passed age; they see, with discontent,
The Time, not onely lost, but, worse than so;
Lost, with a thousand other Losses moe:
And, that, when they shall need it, wealth nor pow'r,
Can purchase them, one minute of an howre.

Consider this, all ye that spend the prime,
The noone tide, and the twilight of your Time,
In childish play-games, or meere worldly things;
As if you could, at pleasure, clip Times wings,
Or turne his Glasse; or, had a LIfe, or twaine
To live, when you had fool'd out this in vaine.
Short is the present; lost Times-passed bee;
And, Time to come, wee may not live to see.

From A Collection of Emblemes, Ancient and Moderne. (1635). Book 4, Illustr. 49. George Wither. Reproduced in Time: The Greatest Innovator. Timekeeping and Time Consciousness in Early Modern Europe. Rachel Doggett, ed. (Washington, D.C.: Folger Shakespeare Library, 1986).

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
(Anonymous)
Mar. 3rd, 2005 11:35 pm (UTC)
Emblem of hourglass
What are the four little figures on top of the hourglass in the engraving?
owlfish
Mar. 4th, 2005 05:09 pm (UTC)
Re: Emblem of hourglass
I'm betting they're the four seasons, but I can't actually see the image in too much more detail than you can from the reduced version. From left to right, it looks to me like 1- a woman holding a bird; 2 - a wreathed person prepared to thresh; 3 - someone with a scythe (wrong sequence for grain processing, I know; 4 - and someone else holding out his hands.
ajodasso
Mar. 4th, 2005 11:59 pm (UTC)
Wow, no, I hadn't realized. Tuesday is International Women's Day; that's about all I knew, but it's kind of impossible to miss that, given where I am. I've surfed my way over here to ask if I might friend you :)
owlfish
Mar. 5th, 2005 12:13 am (UTC)
Somehow, the only mention of IWD I've seen so far has been an advertisement for makeovers at the Body Shop, and so I'd forgotten it. Thank you for the reminder!

Of course you can friend me. I've reciprocated.
ajodasso
Mar. 5th, 2005 12:13 am (UTC)
Then I shall be your source for anything woman-related.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )