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ODE ON A GRECIAN URN By John Keats

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ODE ON A GRECIAN URN

By John Keats


Published in 1819 it was probably inspired by the great sculptures of Partenone kept in the British Museum. This ode was written during Keats' most productive period.



The Grecian urn is, first of all, a metaphor for poetry and the pow 848b11i er it has, trough imagination and desire, over the destruction of time and death. The figures on the urn, described in the ode, are frozen for ever, proving that beauty can conquer death. But even beauty is subject to death and its essence lies in the fact that it is also a victim, it too must die. The melancholy which is an essential part of romantic beauty stems from this shadow of death. As we can see in Ode to Melancholy, melancholy "dwells with Beauty - Beauty that must die.". But the beauty that is represented in the poem is eternal, an object over which has no power.


In this ode Keats reveals his passionate devotion to beauty, especially the beauty of Greece. Indeed, the poem is almost Greek in its artistic perfection.

The urn was carved with a succession of beautiful scenes and figures which take on life in the poet's eyes. The chief idea of the poem is the permanence of all these beautiful forms and of their delight and quiet happiness, as contrasted with the shortness of lumen pleasures:


The urn presents two main scenes:

The throng of fleeing and pursuing men of lines 8 - 10

The  sacrificial procession of lines 31 - 37

The youth piping beneath the trees (line 15), and the bold lover (line 17), who has almost caught the maiden, are details of the first scenes; and the little town by a river or sea share (line 38 - 39) is obviously not carved on the urn, but only deduced by the poet from the crowd following the priest and the "heifer lowing at the skies", the sacrificial victim to the altar.  










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