Keats - Ode on a Grecian urn

“Ode on a Grecian urn” is a reflection on the contrast between the perfection of the world of art and the short comings and sufferings of real life. Keats writes the poem after having visited the British museum and being inspired by an image on the Parthenon. The poet addresses to an ancient Grecian urn, that becomes the centre of his admiration. The urn is the result of imagination, the faculty that enables the poet to create poetry, and it is created trought negative capability, which is the power the poet has to forget everything of his experience and to deny his rationality in order to give life to a new objects and behave as if it is real.
The poem is the celebration of artistic beautyt; the poet wonders about the figures on the side of the urn and asks what legend they depict and from where they come. Each stanza deals with a different topic: the first stanza starts with rethorical questions (the poet takes for granted that it is easy for the reader to give an answer to them) that are meant to stimulate the readers' curiosity and attenction; there is a wide use of figures of speech and sound, especially personifications, trought which the urn is given human appearance. The choice of words gives musicality and armony. In the second stanza, the speaker looks at another picture on the urn: a young man playing a pipe, lying with his lover beneath a glade of trees. The speaker says that the piper’s “unheard” melodies are sweeter than mortal melodies because they are unaffected by time. The picture portrays an idillyc situation of artistic and intellectual perfection. Near the musician there are two young lovers, involved in a "mad persuit": this image represents a moment frozen in time and symbolized the "unfulfilled love". The speaker tells the youth that, though he can never kiss his lover, he should not grieve, because her beauty will never fade.
The poet makes a comment about real life, which is passionate but implies suffering, unhappiness, disillusionment and it is destined to an end; on the other side there is art wich will never lead to pain and it is eternal, but deprived of passions and fulfillment (human life is superior because all passions can be achieved but at the same time it brings suffering).
The fourth stanza deals with a religious sacrifice that takes place in a natural place and it is divided into two arts: the first one deals with the feelings of people, while the second one deals with the situation of emptyness and solitude caused by the absence of human being who has left the village; this lines generate a sense of melancoly and regret that reflects the poet's mood.
The poet wants to state that religion/spirituality has always existed in human life and it is the ability of man to detouch from reality and it is meant to offer consolation to man giving him the certainty of a life after death.
In this ode the author wants to exalt the beauty of works of art. In fact, the beauty of the urn will remain eternal, while the beauty of human beings certainly will decay. So, the very important kind of beauty isn't physical one, but it is spiritual one, which is related to eternal. The ode also regains the Shakesperean idea of art as the only way to defeat the passing of time, the same idea that will be regained by Wilde in the Victorian age.
Keats closes the poem with the chiasmus: “Beauty is truth, truth beauty, —that is all / Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know”: the phraise regains a classical greek idea for which only beauty can transmitt truth so beauty acquires also an ethich value for man.
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