An Ode to a Grecian Urn by John Keats Essay

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An Ode to a Grecian Urn by John Keats John Keats's poem "An Ode to a Grecian Urn", is written encompassing both life and art. Keats uses a Grecian urn as a symbol of life. He refers to the Greek piece of art as being immortal, with its messages told in endless time. Walter J. Bate explains that the Sisobas Vase that Keats traced at the home of his artist friend Haydon, the Townly Vase at the British Museum, or the Borghese Vase in the Louvre, are suggested by scholars to possibly be the ones that Keats had in mind while writing his poem (510-511). Being that Keats had quite a respectable knowledge of Greek art, it is also quite possible that he had no particular vase in mind at all. Outside of that, our chief concern is the…show more content…
Perhaps he uses this to tell us how the urn has been adopted to tell us a story of Greek times. Or perhaps even more simply, who were its original parents? The phrase "Now he belongs to the ages," comes to mind here. The words, "slow time" seems so exact in describing the urn. After all, the urn is matter and is no more immortal then man. Time may not stand still for it; however, as with anything immortal, time shall move slower. Keats speaks of the urn as a "sylvan historian who canst thus express / a flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme" (3-4). He projects the urn as a historian forwarding tales and knowledge to us from the ages extended past. The urn has frozen lovely moments of history from the erosion of time. As the second stanza begins, Keats once again projects the stories told by the urn as timeless. "Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard / are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes play on;" (11-12). Unheard melodies may contain an infinite number of notes. Thus, to whoever is listening, each hears a different sound, a sweeter sound. Though it may be different in tone, it is always the melody that pleases each individuals ear. Measurements as we know them no longer exist. The urn to be is apart from the constant flowing stream of time. "Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave / Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare;" (15-16). Keats describes two figures on an urn as a pair of young lovers beneath some leafy
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