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Read The Poem 'ode On A Grecian Urn' By John Keats

1720 words - 7 pages

'Ode on a Grecian Urn' is a delightfully reflective, lyrical poem, which contemplates the beauty of static art with the transience of life. Although initially we revel in the enchanting charm of the urn depicted we understand that art is eternal in its moment of emotion, and what it gains in its infinite life it also looses with the lack of motion of it being fixed. By looking at the intricate poetic language Keat's chooses for this ode we are allowed access to the enchanting images of the urn and also into the introspective mood of Keat's himself.The word 'ode' derives from an ancient Greek word meaning 'song' which sets the mood of the piece. We see the art of the urn and also the ...view middle of the document...

This serves as an echoing technique that exaggerates the passing of time and the eternal images that will never cease to exist.The ode itself is a mixture of characteristics from the traditional Shakespearean and Petrachan sonnets, like 'Ode to Autumn'. The first quatrain rhyme scheme is ABAB with the ending sestet of the stanza being a deliberate corruption of the Petrachan rhyme scheme, following the pattern of CDE DCE rather than the traditional form of CDE CDE. The poem also exhibits other poetic conventions by the way it is written mainly in iambic pentameter. However, Keats is tractable with this trait whilst retaining classical formality. Line 7 is a nine-syllable line with two unstressed syllables. This adds to the excitement of the tumbling amount of questions the poet is asking of the scenes depicted on the Grecian urn. The use of anaphora is also evident, each question drawing attention to itself by beginning with 'What'.X / x x / x / x /'In tempe or the dales of Arcady?'Stanzas 2 and 3 explore the images and scenes on the urn. Repetition of words is most prevalent in these stanzas; 'heard melodies are sweet, […] unheard / Are sweeter', 'ye soft pipes […] Pipe to the spirit', 'happy, happy boughs! […] More happy love! More happy, happy love!' This repetition draws attention to the poem as a poem, acknowledging to the reader that like the urn is a work of art, so is the poem, and like the urn is eternal, so is the poem. The problems that we encounter with the urn being sterile and fixed, are the problems we will encounter with the poem. It can only explore a momentary feeling - it is not transient like life itself. The repetition of the word 'happy', although essentially is an uplifting word, is made to sound uncomfortable through the insistence it creates. Poetic devices such as these warn us that language can be ambiguous and the initial interpretation may not be all it appears to be, and the job of the poet is to exploit these ambiguities like that concerned with feelings upon life.The poet celebrates the pipes and their sweet melodies. He celebrates the fact they are sweeter when we can't hear them suggesting that the beauty of imagination is true beauty of the world. What our mind perceives is truth and beauty and we can see and hear beyond the original natural form itself. This sentiment is echoed in the final two lines of the poem. The trees will never know what it is like to be bare of leaves, they will always be bountiful and full. The lover will 'never, never' kiss the fair maid. This repetition finalises the insistence of 'never' contrasting the art with real life. It is dead in its moment of pleasure. For although the lovers will be 'for ever' fair and in love they will never reach the moment of 'bliss'. The poet expresses the images or people depicted on the urn are far above 'human passion' and will never feel the absolute sorrow and unhappiness that accompanies our humanity.Keats also makes use of...

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