Truth in Keats' Ode on a Grecian Urn and Cummings' since feeling is first

Truth in Keats' Ode on a Grecian Urn and Cummings' since feeling is first

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Truth in Keats' Ode on a Grecian Urn and Cummings' since feeling is first


Truth remains a mysterious essential: sought out, created, and destroyed in countless metaphysical arguments through time. Whether argued as being absolute or relative, universal or personal, no thought is perceived or conceived without an assessment of its truth. In John Keats' "Ode on a Grecian Urn" and E.E. Cummings' "since feeling is first" the concern is not specifically the truth of a thought, but rather, the general nature of truth; the foundation which gives truth is trueness . Both poets replace investigation with decision, and that which would be argumentation in the hands of philosophers becomes example and sentiment in their poems. Each poet's examples create a resonance within the reader, engineered to engender belief or provoke thought. Employing images of unconsummated actions on an ancient urn carved with scenes from life, Keats suggests that "Beauty is truth, truth beauty"; Cummings, on the other hand, offers emotion as the foundation of truth, and supports living life fully through diction, theme-suggestive syntax, and images of accomplished action.

Cummings' "since feeling is first" compares the beauty of emotion and the inadequacy of mental analysis. In line three, attention to "syntax," synonymous with literary construction and order, ruins emotional spontaneity, symbolized by a kiss. "Wholly to be a fool while Spring is in the world" ignores social convention in seeking pleasure while "fool" and "Spring" complement each other and suggest the blossoming of love. Line six, "my blood approves," focuses on the physical root of life and evades the hackneyed connotative baggage that arrives with the word "heart." Cummings then swear...


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...ing reality and easily equated to the story told by the "Sylvan historian." Thus, the urn as historian provides the truth spoken of in the final line. Literally, the truth of the urn (its representation of life) is its beauty. The derived equivalence of truth and beauty allows the concluding statement: "Beauty is truth, truth beauty." Through similar rhetorical features, "since feeling is first" celebrates love and extols the virtue of intuitive, spontaneous emotion. Cummings' use of sensual imagery discounts methodical analysis and offers emotion as truth. Both poems arrive at seperate conclusions and reflect the diversity of perspectives regarding the nature of truth.

Works Cited

Brooks, Cleanth. The Well Wrought Urn. New York: Harcourt Brace Johanovich, 1975.

Prentice Hall Literature: The American Experience. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1991.

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