Professor WoehlerENC 1102
10 April 2018
In the poems “Ode on a Grecian Urn” by John Keats and “To His Coy Mistress” by Marvell these poems strive for the same goal, which is to obtain the true beauty of humanity. The treatment of time is different between each poem. It is the way that each one takes to get there that is different. The connotative language used in each poem shows the differences regarding to the treatment of time. Each poem attracts two different types of readers, which creates two different views of how time is perceived by people.
To begin, “Ode on a Grecian Urn” is discussing that events in life are not a subject of time. Keats thinks people should have a control of their own imagination. Both poems want to unlock the beauty of humanity, but in different ways. Keats is using irony and opposites, while Marvell is interested in using the idea of time having no end. In addition, Marvell is contrasting that idea to a chariot of death that follows every person. A control of time in Marvell’s poem is evident within the first two lines when he writes, “Had we but world enough, and time, / This coyness, lady, were no crime” (1-2). Marvell is saying he believes in control over time when carefully looked at. Further into the poem he tries to seduce a woman in the poem with his notion of time. The writer says, “I would / Love you ten years before the Flood; / And you should, if you please, refuse / Till the conversion of the Jews” (7-10). Marvell is showing how he is the one controlling this theoretical time. When the poem starts to end his control of time is destroyed so he can take this mistress into bed.
In the poem, “Ode on a Grecian Urn” Keats is portraying that the control of things is not controlled by time. He uses images that cannot be used to show control of time. In the poem he compares the urn to a “foster-child of silence and slow time” (2). Looking further into the poem he uses imagery by saying, “Fair youth, beneath the trees” (15). After this he tells the readers, “She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss, For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair!” (19-20). Keats is a bold believer in the control of time demonstrated throughout his poem, but he also does believe in having control of the imagination. The reader must use their own imagination to find the inner beauty of the urn. Keats is making the reader think in this poem by asking questions that do not have answers. The reader is filling in the blanks as they read the poem themselves. The writer says, “What leaf-fring’d legend haunts about thy shape / When men or gods are these? What maiden loaths? / What pipes and timbrels? What wild ectasy?” (5-10). The reader using their own imagination is key to unlocking the potential that this poem offers, while unlocking the true beauty to humanity.
Each poem is trying to tell the reader that one should physically seize the day, while the other should use their own imagination to when reading each poem. Both support this throughout the course of their respective poems. An example of this in Keats poem is when he writes, “Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard / Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on; / Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear’d,” (11-13). This line is saying that listening to music is wonderful, but the music people imagine is even greater. Marvell’s way of writing is different because he is more realistic with his poem. He exemplifies this reasoning by writing, “at my back I always hear / Time’s winged chariot hurrying near;” (21-22). At the same time, he wants readers to know imagination can make life more enjoyable. When Marvell writes, “We would sit down and think which way” (3), he is using imagination for the reader to further his point. To unlock the true beauty of humanity both writes have a very different style in doing so in their work. Both writes have the same goal in their poems, but just have a different way of reaching that goal.
In conclusion, time can be viewed in different ways. Both poems exemplify the value of time, but “Ode on a Grecian Urn” uses more imagery to better understand their point of view. In “To His Coy Mistress” Marvell believes that there is a control over time, while in “Ode on a Grecian Urn” Keats is saying the control of things are not subject to time. They are more about a control of the imagination in Keats’s poem. This is showing the main difference between these two poems when relative to the treatment of time.