How Does Keats Express His Aesthetic Vision in ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’?

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How does Keats express his aesthetic vision in ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’? John Keats once said regarding Lord Byron that “he (Byron) describes what he sees, I describe what I imagine”. Keats is a typically Romantic poet in the way in which he uses the fluid boundaries of imagination within his poem to formulate his aesthetic vision which is projected in ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’. Pope notes that the etymology of ‘aesthetics’ derives from the Greek meaning ‘things perceptible to the sense’ and ‘sensory impressions’; within the poem Keats uses evocative techniques to project the ‘refined sense of pleasure’ which he receives from observing the ancient piece. For Keats, the piece of art represents a timeless beauty which he longs to achieve…show more content…
The repeated questions in the final lines of the first stanza build a mounting anticipation and also enhance the mystery as to the aesthetic beauty of the urn; there appear to be many unanswered questions regarding the stories which are told within the art work and Keats is intrigued to unravel the secrets which it holds. The questions simultaneously increase the ambiguity of the urn and create Keats’ aesthetic vision of the object within the reader. Pope comments that the aesthetic is ‘an aversion to the ordinary and ugly’; Keats’ repeated questions enhance the reader’s belief that there is nothing simple or plain about the urn, with: “What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape” producing a vivid display of the feelings and the emotions of those figures who are immortalised within the urn. By using “struggle”, Keats acknowledges the desperation of the characters to be freed from the marble prison which they are cemented. The verb enhances the aesthetic vision of the art as Keats produces a new dimension to the object which begins to establish the tale of the “marble men” which he observes. The story of the “little town” is further developed by the “wild ecstasy” of the young couple suggesting a thrilling relationship between the lovers who are pictured, increasing the aesthetic vision of the urn as an element of a sexual

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