Ode to a Grecian Urn Essay

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Ode to a Grecian Urn In the early 19th century it was not unusual to make a work of art, painting or sculpture a subject of a poem. Taken literally, the poem 'Ode to a Grecian Urn' is a poem about a vase, but Keats has inverted the traditional understanding of physical, tangible objects and transformed them into metaphors for abstract concepts, such as truth and time. An urn is primarily used to preserve the ashes of the dead. The theme of the Ode, accordingly, has to do with the relationship between imagination and actuality, and the supremacy and immortality of a work of art if compared to our ordinary life. With the masterful use of the device of figurative language, Keats has created a melodic, beautifully flowing poem…show more content…
He describes it as a bride, a foster-child, a historian. All these personifications are links of the actions related to those roles which Keats assigns to the urn. Keats crafts iambic pentameter to imitate his meaning in the first two lines of the stanza. The overall meter is iambic pentameter, but subtle variations in it produce a different emotional effect for the reader. Keats's first line ends with two unstressed or weak syllables instead of the iamb (the "etness" of "quietness"), with the effect of thinning, hushing, or quieting sound. At the end of the next line, the poet replaces the iamb with two stressed or strong syllables (a spondee), resulting in the heavier, slower impact of "slow time." The Urn has been adopted by Silence and Slow Time. This metaphor is intended to convey the quietness and the undiminished glory of the Urn over the centuries. The alliteration creates a sense of quiet, reinforcing the meaning of the line. The final two lines of the 1st stanza highlight the paradoxical sense that persists through the whole poem. The Urn which earlier had been associated with silence, stillness, quietness, and virginity, is now associated with sound, passion, and activity. This has been portrayed in the music of the "pipes and timbrel" and in the "mad pursuit" between the maiden struggling to escape her lovers' clutches. Such a vivid picture of men or gods chasing their maidens in a state of wild passion largely contrasts with the
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