ODE ON A GRECIAN URN
Written in 1819, "Ode on a Grecian urn" was the third of the five greatest odes of 1819,wich are generally believed to have been written in the following order: Psyche, Nightingale, Grecian urn, Melancholy and Autumn. Critics have used vague references in Keats's letters as well a thematic progression to assign order.
The main theme of "Ode on a Grecian urn" is art, considered l 959c26j ike the vehicle for eternizing life, reflected on this Grecian urn that become the symbol of eternal beauty.
Keats is usually regarded as the most romantic poet because in his poetry we can recognize all key-themes that are typical of Romanticism: beauty, unrealism, musicality, disillusionment and imagery.
Keats is also regarded as the forefather of aesthetic movement because he is the first that give importance to beauty as a moral value, saying that beauty is the only everlasting value for human being.
The greatness of Keats's poetry consists in giving to reader the sensation of touching, of being here with the poet while he was looking at the urn. He appeals to human senses, a new approach in writing poetry.
All Keats's poetry is regarded as a continue struggle between real and unreal: all his feeling towards art make an unreal world spreading up from the urn and wrap on the poet.
The poem is divided in five stanzas and is full of musicality; Keats make a large use of imagery: we have bucolic images in first stanza that remember the reader John Milton's poems and Virgil's one, visual images in the first stanza, hearing images in the second stanza and in the third too, tactile images in forth and fifth stanzas.
The first stanza begin slowly, asks questions arising from thought and raises abstract concepts such as time and art with the comparison of the urn to an " unravish'bride", "Still" embodies two concepts, time and motion, which appear in a number of ways in the rest of the poem.
They appear immediately in line 2 with the urn as a "foster child". The urn exists in real world, which is mutable or subject to time and change, yet it and the life it presents are unchanging; hence, the bride is " unravish'd" as a" foster child". The urn is touched by "slow time", not the time of the real world. The figures carved on the urn are not subject to time, though the urn may be change or affected over slow time. The urn as " sylvan history" speaks to0 the viewer, even if it doesn't answer the poet's questions. The urn is " sylvan", first because a border of leaves encircles the vase and second because the scene carved on the urn is set in woods. Is it paradoxical that the urn, which is silent, tells " more sweetly than our rime"? With lines 8-10, the poet is caught up in the excited, rapid activities depicted on the urn and moves from observer to participant in the life of the urn, in the sense that he is emotionally involved. Paradoxically, turbulent dynamic passion is convincingly portrayed on cold, emotionless stone.
The first four lines of second stanza contrasts the ideal and the real. He referred to unreal when he says " unheard melodies" or " Bold lover". This lines are usually compared to 18 sonnet of Shakespeare for the similar message both them contained; art is the only vehicle for make something eternal, because nature is corrupted.
The third stanza recapitulates ideal from the preceding two stanzas and re-introduced some figures, the trees which can't shed leaves, the musician and the lover. Keats portrayed the ideal life on the urn as one without disappointment and suffering, noticing the repetition of the word " happy". For this theme of disillusionment Keats is also compared to the famous Italian poet Giacomo Leopardi.
The fourth stanza shows the ability of art to stir imagination, so the viewer sees more tan is portrayed. The poet imagines the village from which the figures on the urn came. In this stanza, the poet begins to withdraw from his emotional participation in , and identification with life on the urn. This stanza focuses on communal life, while the previous described individuals, The image of silent, desolate town embodies both joy and pain.
In the last stanza the poet is emotionally involved in the life of the urn. This stanza contains the answer to the questions the poet made in the initial lines of the poem: " Beauty is truth", the final message of the poem.
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