Themes are arguably the essence of literature, giving words purpose or intention or atmosphere and feeling. Amongst the most used themes in all of literature would have to be that of time. Time is a man-made concept, created to indicate moments in the natural progression of existence. Thematically, time can encompass many other feelings and concepts such as regret, contemplation, nostalgia and sadness, which can be evoked through longing for a 'moment' in time. Each poem I have chosen reflects aspects of contemplation, sadness or regret. Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken" examines feelings of regret and choices in time, Sir Walter Raleigh's "Life" is a poem of contemplation; of existence and time before its end. Finally, John Milton's "Of Time", a typically dramatic piece by the 16th century master of 'epic' poetry. "Of Time" is written of the bittersweet relationship between mortal lives and the aching shortness of said lives. The chosen image of an hourglass is a typical, although, undeniably apt choice of symbolism wherever time is involved. An hourglass visually displays the passage of time and is an appropriate visual motif regarding notions of time and feelings and concepts relating to time.
Sir Walter Raleigh's "Life" and Milton's "On Time" share a connection through their common noting of the seemingly mundane or linear nature of an existence within time. Both texts seem to imply that a mortal life is in certain respects, futile, and that an existence free of time is the ultimately desired outcome. Both "Life" and "On Time" associate this eternal life with a divine creator, a mirroring of both poets faith through their work. Milton's desire for the freedom of the afterlife is made quite apparent as well as his belief in a divine judgment:
When everything that is sincerely good
And perfectly divine,
With Truth, and Peace, and Love shall ever shine
About the supreme Throne
Much like how Raleigh suggests that our lives are but a...