This half-told tale was a shared bond between George and his grandson, Sam. It is also Harding’s fond reference to his grandfather, with whom he had close relationship. They often spent time fishing and hiking in the Maine north woods, and his grandfather would entertain him with bawdy sailors’ limericks – never divulging the ribald punch lines.
The limerick form was popularized by Edward Lear in his first Book of Nonsense (1845). This kind of humor is also reminiscent of the “Bert and I” collection of stories and recordings, set in “Down East” Maine.
The American Romantic and Transcendental movements were popular in the mid-nineteenth century; they were a reaction to neoclassical ideals of order and reason. Transcendentalists believed there is knowledge beyond what humans can see, hear, feel, smell, touch, and taste; that an individual is capable of achieving moments of direct insight into divinity through an immersion in the natural world. They rejected tradition and convention especially in matters of doctrine; and believed that spirituality was innate, not the product of formalized ritual and churches.
Authors, poets, artists and philosophers of the time included Ralph Waldo Emerson, Walt Whitman, Henry David Thoreau, Emily Dickinson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, as well as American romantic landscape artists, including Asher Brown Durand and Frederic Edwin Church of the Hudson River School.
Crepuscule comes from the Latin creper, meaning dusky or dark.
To Howard, this was the best part of the afternoon, when folds of night mingled with bands of day.
Also called twilight, dusk, eventide, the gloaming, the Blue Hour, Alpen Glow and the Belt of Venus, this period between daylight and darkness has a rich history in literature and art. Cinematographers know that objects filmed in the “golden hour" before dusk are often suffused with an unpredictable golden glow. Twilight is the magic hour when ordinary objects undergo an almost spiritual transformation, a heightened meaning. In Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, twilight is the time for waking-sleeping dreams, and the mingling of the everyday and supernatural.
In the second passage from Rev. Kenner Davenport’s The Reasonable Horologist, he reflects on man’s early attempts to capture time more precisely. Clepsydra refers to a water clock (its Greek translation is “water thief”) which measures time by regulating the flow of liquid from one vessel to another.
In 807, Emperor Charlemagne was sent a brass clock by the Abbasid caliph, Harun al-Rashid in Baghdad. According to the Emperor’s biographer, it was a “marvellous mechanical contraption, in which the course of the twelve hours moved according to a water clock, with as many brazen little balls, which fell down on the hour and through their fall made a cymbal ring underneath. On this clock there were also twelve horsemen who at the end of each hour stepped out of twelve windows, closing the previously open windows by their movements.” HistoryToday “Charlemagne’s Elephant”, Richard Hodges, November 2000.
Ctesibius was a Greek inventor and mathematician in Alexandria, Egypt (285-222 B.C.). He is credited with a number of inventions, including a water pump, pneumatic catapults and a more precise water clock.