For a full overview click here

Mottoes on sundials - a minor art form in themselves

In Association with Amazon.com Click to browse unique home accents!
Mottoes on sundials are a minor art form in themselves. Many of them perhaps look on the more pessimistic side of life, but there are plenty of others to suit every temperament. This list - in no particular order - is given for your information and amusement; you are encouraged to send an E-mail if you would like to add others. Please give some indication of the source if at all possible.

This page is concerned with mottoes in English. Our mottoesp.htm page has a much longer list of mottoes in Latin, with translations in Spanish. Among those sent in recently are
Light and shadow by turns, but love always
            Rachel Sarda
Time and Tide Wait For No Man
            Kathleen M Broadhead
Aim Higher than the Mark (on the new sundial at Ashby)
            Piers Nicholson

The shadow of my finger cast
Divides the future from the past;
Before it stands the unborn hour
In darkness and beyond thy power;
Behind its unreturning line
The vanished hour no longer thine;
One hour alone is in thy hand,
The now on which the shadow stands.
            PSandy Brown - said to come from a sundial in Wellesley, Mass.
t Slow comes the hour
Its passing speed how great
            Pete Bliss
The assortment following is from a collection of more than 2000 mottoes collected by sundial maker James Stewart,  a whitesmith who worked in Invercargill, New Zealand and made more than 200 sundials before  his death in 1933. (James Stewart was the great grandfather of Bruce Christie, Palmerston North, New Zealand. (bruce @greenplant.co.nz) who kindly supplied this collection.
 If you are the owner or know the whereabouts of any James Stewart sundials Bruce would be very pleased to hear from you.
  1. A day may prime thee, improve this hour.
  2. Moved by the light.
  3. A stick in time saves mine.
  4. On this moment hangs eternity.
  5. To thee that mourn the hours are slow
    But with joyful swiftly go.
  6. The gliding hour flies on its fitful wings.
  7. Come boys now's the hour.
  8. Learn ze, years pass by like running water.
  9. Snatch the present hour, fear the last.
  10. As a shadow such is life.
  11. Look at me and pass on.
  12. By the shadow shall I mark time.
  13. Be thankful, watch, pray and work.
  14. The sun who guides the heavenly bodies produces the shade.
  15. Come light visit me.
  16. Count all the hours lost which are not accompanied by some worthy deed.
  17. With the shadow nothing, without the shadow nothing.
  18. To God alone be the glory.
  19. Learn to live and die well.
  20. The Lord is my light.
  21. Perhaps the last.
  22. Go your way into His courts with thanksgiving.
  23. Let the slight shadow teach thee wisdom
  24. Evil be to him who thinks evil thereof.
  25. I count bright hours only.
  26. I tell only sunny hours.
  27. I am a shadow, so art thou,
    I mark the time, dost thou?
  28. Amidst the flowers I tell the hours.
  29. The clock the time may wrongly tell,
    I never if the sun shines well.
  30. Time flies, eternity draws near.
  31. Lead kindly light.
  32. Let not the sun go down on your wrath.
  33. Let others tell of storms and showers,
    I tell only sunny hours.
  34. Light is the shadow of God.
  35. Night comes when no man can work.
  36. Like a true fireman, I am always ready.
  37. He hath made his choice aright,
    who counted but the hours of light.
  38. Till the day dawn and the shadows flee away.
  39. My time is in thy hand.
  40. Man wants but little here below,
    nor wants that little wrong.
  41. Only as I abide in the light of heaven
    do I fulfil the will of my maker.
  42. They pass by and are scorned.
  43. So passes the glory of the world.
  44. The sun guides me the shadows gone.
  45. Tak tent o'time, ere time be tint.
  46. Time passes as a shadow.
  47. Time flies, death urges, knells call, heaven invites.
  48. With warning hand I mark times rapid flight,
    From life's glad morning to its solemn night.
    Yet through the dear God's love, I also show,
    There's light above me by the shade below.
  49. When thou dost look upon my face,
    To learn the time of day:
    Think how my shadow keeps its pace,
    As thy life flies away.
    Take, mortal this advice from me
    And so resolve to spend
    They life on earth, that heaven shall be
    Thy home when time shall end.
  50. I stand amid the summer flowers
    To tell the passage of the hours.
    When winter steals the flowers away
    I tell the passing of their day.
    Man whose flesh is but as grass
    Like summer flowers thy life shall pass
    While time is thine lay up in store
    And thou shalt live for evermore.

To end up in the wrong direction, these verses by Hilaire Belloc have probably not been used on actual sundials, but express some of the problems and indeed pathos of the sundials!

  • In soft deluding lies let foools delight.
    A shadow marks our days, which end in Night
  • How slow the Shadow creeps; but when 'tis past
    How fast the Shadows fall. How fast! How fast!
  • Loss and Possession, Death and Life are one.
    There falls no shadow where there shines no sun.
  • Stealthy the silent hours advance, and still;
    And each may wound you, and the last shall kill.
  • Here in a lonely glade, forgotten, I
    Mark the tremendous process of the sky.
    So does your inmost soul, forgotten, mark
    The Dawn, the Noon, the coming of the Dark.
  • I that sitll point to one enduring star
    Abandoned am, as all the Constant are.
  • Save on the rare occasions when the Sun
    Is shining, I am only here for fun
  • I am a sundial, and I make a botch
    Of what is done far better by a watch.
  • I am a sundial, turned the wrong way round.
    I cost my foolish mistress fifty pounds


For a full overview of Sundials on the Internet click here
This complete website © Internetworks, 1997-2007. The site was designed and is maintained by Internetworks Ltd of Epsom, England
last revision
Comments/ suggestions/ problems, please get in touch with the Webmaster