Ode on a Grecian urn by John Keats
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Ode on a Grecian urn by John Keats
Ode on a Grecian Urn
"Ode on a Grecian Urn" is a poem written by the Romantic poet John Keats in 1819. The inspiration of this Ode came from a vase he saw during a visit to the British Museum. Keats was aware of other work on classical Greek art which he found to be idealistic. In this ode, Keats studies a marble Greek urn and contemplates the story, history and secrets that lie behind its carved pictures. Throughout the poem, he constantly juxtaposes the immortality of art with the mortality of man. His feelings seemed confused, as he is torn between jealousy and bitterness that the urn will live forever and be remembered when he is long dead and forgotten and pity for the inanimate object that has no experience of life despite its endurance through ages.
First, the theme of immortality of art, although the urn exists in the real world which is subject to time and change , the life it represents and itself are static and unchanging. The fourth stanza brings upon the issue that the urn is needed as a piece of artwork, the urn is viewed as an immortal basin of knowledge since the images upon it are permeant and will stay there forever. "thy streets … return", and like it is mentioned in the last stanza "thou shalt remain".
The urn will stand and remain immortal. It cannot die or age. It continues to transfer the same message to teach generations that studies it "a friend to man".
Moreover, another theme is presented in the ode is the beauty of nature. Keats sees beauty in the love of the young couple "Bold lover", and in the everlasting passion of love in the lover and the beauty of the young female that her beauty will never fade and it is eternal "she cannot fade". Also, the beauty is shown in the unheard melody that needs the imagination to be widen in order to be enjoyed. "heard melodies … of no tone".
Keats's tone in "Ode on a Grecian Urn" is light, cheerful and full of admiration. He enjoys the happy scenes detailed on the side of the urn and treasures the ability of the urn to preserve history. "a flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme" "pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone". The poet is happy with the scene of music that the urn is giving to whoever sees it or hears the unheard melodies of it. "heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard ae sweeter". Plus, he enjoys the beauty and the truth embodied by the Grecian urn "Beauty is truth, truth beauty" as if he is saying that the only truth that the people will understand is beauty.
Figures of speech:
Assonance: "Bold Lover, never, never canst thou kiss" - the e sound links the lovers to do the idea that they are completely unable to kiss.
Consonance: "Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone" - the repeated t in spirit and ditties and tone emphasizes how the songs being played to the Gods by the piper do not actually make a physical sound.
Alliteration: "marble men and maidens" - the repeated m sound at the beginning of words brings a clearer picture of the images of people deputed on the urn.
Onomatopoeia: "Breathing" - this word sounds like the sound of deep breath.
Simile: "Thou, silent form, dost tease us out of thought As doth eternity" - compares how the silence of the urn makes people that look at it have to think with the way eternity make us think; both make us questions many things and keep us wondering.
Apostrophe: "thou still …" - Keats is addressing the urn.
Paradox: "melodies are sweet but those unheard are sweeter" - this means that the best melodies are left unheard which we can only hear them in our imagination.
"Ode on a Grecian Urn" consists of 5 stanzas with 10 lines each. The first seven lines in each stanza consistently follow this rhyme scheme ABAB CDE . However, the last three lines of the stanzas are not the same.
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