Examining The Grecian Urn By John Keats Essay

Examining The Grecian Urn By John Keats Essay

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Examining the Grecian Urn”
John Keats’ poem “Ode on a Grecian Urn” tells the story of a man who finds an ancient urn and examines the images depicted on it marveling at the state of the urn’s beauty. He thinks of the urn as some kind of storyteller. As he inspects the images he wonders about the legends they recount and the place they came from. As he slowly turns the urn he first views a depiction of a group of men that seem to be following a group of women, he wonders what story the picture could be telling. He continues to turn the urn and he sees a picture of a boy playing a pipe while lying with his lover beneath a tree. He comments on the pipe’s melodies saying that they are sweeter than normal melodies because they are unheard and unchanged by time. (Havens 209-214.) He continues to examine the same image and feels happiness for the lovers because their songs are forever new, and their love will last forever. He comments that mortal love lapses and vanishes with little to show for it. He moves on to the next image and see that it is a group of villagers taking a cow to be sacrificed. He wonders where the villagers are taking the cow and tries to imagine their village. He sees it as being empty and silent because the villagers will never return. Finally, he views the urn as one whole again, he compares it to eternity and states that one day after his generation is gone the urn will still be here to teach others it’s mysterious lessons of truth and beauty. The poems theme is that of beauty and eternity, specifically of art. All of the images are depicted as being frozen and therefore beautiful because they are unchanged and eternal. In a way the poem achieves its own theme as it is still around after its creation years ago li...


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...ngs towards the nature of the lovers on the urn and their love (Napierkowski.) Once again personification is used in lines 21 and 22, the tree branches, or "boughs," are personified as being "happy," and they never say goodbye, or "adieu.” This reinforces the poems connection to the forest and plant life. (Mazzeno 1-3.)
Keats’ “Ode on a Grecian Urn” is often referred to as his best work. Not only that but some even call it one of the greatest Romantic poems ever. The poem shows art as a representation of reality and outpouring of the soul. The last two lines however have been subject to much debate and criticism. Some say that they are a blemish on an otherwise magnificent piece and others argue over how to make sense of them. Whatever the case “Ode on a Grecian Urn” is a fantastic poem and has shown to have significant staying power in modern literature. (Trudeau.)

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