"Essay on Keays "Ode on a Grecian urn""

Confident that I was perfectly justified in correcting students' wrong responses, for several decades I cheerfully carried on the inculcation of an interpretation of Keats's major poems, "Grecian Urn" among them, in which, to put it in the barest possible terms, the theme was skepticism concerning visionary imagination, the various characters (Madeline in "The Eve of St. Agnes," Lycius in "Lamia," the knight in "La Belle Dame," the speakers in the odes) were hoodwinked dreamers, and the basic idea was that, as it is stated in the final stanza of "Ode to a Nightingale," the imagination "cannot cheat so well / As she is fam'd to do." I regularly drew a "Keats Map" on the board in my classes, consisting of a horizontal line dividing an ideal world above the line (heaven, immortality, the supernatural, timelessness, etc.) from an actual world below (earth, mortality, the natural, time, etc.), and had the students position various elements of the poems above and below the line—Madeline's dream in her bedroom above the line, for example, Porphyro, physical love, the rest of the castle, and the storm outside below the line; La Belle Dame's magical grot above the line, the knight's cold hillside of reality below; the Nightingale's forest above, and "here," the world of "hungry generations," below; and so on (for elaboration, see Stillinger, John Keats: Complete Poems xvi-xxii and Reading 107-13).

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"And Love taught grief to fall like music from his tongue", Shelley famously said as apart of her elegy for John Keats. John's bad health was believed to be caused by the beatings he took from the critics, who once advanced him to give up on poetry. One of his buggiest successes was a poem called Ode on a Grecian Urn among the many. Throughout this poem the graphics of art just shoot through you head. You could truly see what Keats wanted to express for his love made evident. Keats had

Essay on Keats' "Ode on a Grecian Urn

"More happy love! more happy, happy love!" (Keats, line 25). When one reads lines such as this, one cannot help but think that the poet must have been very, very happy, and that, in fact, the tone of the poem is light and filled with joy. However, this is not the case in John Keats's poem, Ode on a Grecian Urn. At first glance, the tone of the poem seems light and flowery. However, when one looks deeper into the poem to find its underlying meanings, one discovers that the tone of the poem is very morbid. This is because the poem has two separate levels. Keats's Ode on a Grecian Urn has a superficial level of happiness and joy, which acts as a faÐ"§ade for a deeper level of morbidity and death, most likely because of the fact that Keats was dying as he wrote this poem.

with the fluid expressiveness of music, the "Ode on a Grecian Urn" portrays
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Who is Keats? What is a Grecian urn? What is an ode? These questions are common ones in my classroom. I teach Keats's poetry as part of a third-year, twelve-week survey course on English Romantic Literature in the School of English, Film, and Theatre at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, in the context of a three-year BA programme. Two hours per week are devoted to lectures to the whole group of students (53 in 2002); in addition there is a weekly one-hour tutorial, a discussion session in groups of about fifteen. Three lectures and one tutorial are assigned to Keats. Our textbook is Duncan Wu's Romanticism (second edition; Blackwell).

Essay on Ode on a Grecian Urn by John Keats - …

If the "Ode to a Nightingale" portrays Keats's speaker's engagement with the fluid expressiveness of music, the "Ode on a Grecian Urn" portrays his attempt to engage with the static immobility of sculpture. The Grecian urn, passed down through countless centuries to the time of the speaker's viewing, exists outside of time in the human sense--it does not age, it does not die, and indeed it is alien to all such concepts. In the speaker's meditation, this creates an intriguing paradox for the human figures carved into the side of the urn: They are free from time, but they are simultaneously frozen in time. They do not have to confront aging and death (their love is "for ever young"), but neither can they have experience (the youth can never kiss the maiden; the figures in the procession can never return to their homes).

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The focus on context, both in tutorials and lectures, emphasizes that banal generalities such as "beauty" and "truth" can only be substantiated by the interpretive act of the beholder. The fragmentation which befell the Parthenon Marbles after having been removed from their context is also applicable to the urn in the poem, which has been lifted out of its original context into a world of artifice, the museum pedestal or the engraving. When I saw the Parthenon Marbles in the British Museum in April 2002, I was impressed by the video set-up in an adjacent room which illustrated the position of the marbles on the original building. The evocation of the sacrificial ritual and the little town in stanza four of "Ode on a Grecian Urn" serves a similar purpose of creative reconstruction. For Keats, "Truth" is always the "truth of the imagination," the positive construction of a desired vision, and the resultant "Beauty" is the enduring form in which this vision has been cast. What we achieve in the classroom or in the lecture theatre is a creative, dynamic reconstruction of the contexts in which Keats's poetry took shape.