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On Seeing the Elgin Marbles by John Keats

Presentation by Chelsey Dawson
by Chelsey Dawson on 11 November 2012

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Transcript of On Seeing the Elgin Marbles by John Keats

On Seeing the Elgin Marbles
by John Keats On Seeing the Elgin Marbles My spirit is too weak—mortality
Weighs heavily on me like unwilling sleep,
And each imagined pinnacle and steep
Of godlike hardship tells me I must die
Like a sick eagle looking at the sky.
Yet ’tis a gentle luxury to weep
That I have not the cloudy winds to keep
Fresh for the opening of the morning’s eye.
Such dim-conceived glories of the brain
Bring round the heart an undescribable feud;
So do these wonders a most dizzy pain,
That mingles Grecian grandeur with the rude
Wasting of old time—with a billowy main—
A sun—a shadow of a magnitude. Poem Analysis Theme of Mortality "my spirit is too weak" (1) "unwilling sleep" (2) "I must die" (4) "dim-concieved glories" (9) "luxury to weep" (6) RHYME
SCHEME

ABBCCBBC

DEDEDE Keats Portrayal of Mortality

Keats discusses how he is
mortal and he will die in due
time after viewing the Elgin Marbles. He isolates the word "mortality" to emphasize this. He uses words like weak, unwilling and weep to
foster a sense of sadness and
loss of hope among his audience. In summary, Keats explores death and how even things believed to be immortal eventually fade. History: Keats is discussing the Elgin Marbles
which are pictured. These were marble figures
taken from Greece and put in England where
Keats first saw them at a museum. Keats explores the conflicting emotions of the head and heart on mortality. He then goes on and compares himself to the Elgin Marbles, because like him they have started to crumble and will waste away in due time. He also references the sun and shadows, two contrasting ideas which coordinate to his conflicting emotions. Finally, Keats uses the end of this sestet to highlight that nothing-- not even Greecian artifacts made of marble can last forever and challenged readers to decide if expidentures like the marble statues are worth their effort if they, like him, will eventually cease to exist. Line Break Down "My spirit is too weak -- mortality
Weighs on me heavily like unwilling sleep,
And each imagined pinnacle and steep
Of godlike harship teels me I must die
Like a sick eagle in the sky." (1-5)

Keats uses these lines to explain that like sleep, he are unable to control death and that through everything he has gone through in his life it will not change the fact that he himself must eventually die. He speaks about the imminence of death, and portrays it in a forboding way through his word choice. "Such dim-conceived glories of the brain
Bring round the heart an undescribable feud
So do these wonders a most dizzy pain,
That mingles Grecian grandeur with the rude
Wasting of old time-- with a billowy main--
A sun-- a shadow of a magnitude" (9-14) "Yet 'tis a gentle luxury to weep
That I have not the cloudy winds to keep
Fresh for the opening of the morning's eye."

(6-8) In conclusion, Keats uses On Seeing the Elgin Marbles to convey to the audience his fears of death, but also to pose the question about whether or not anything can truly last forever. A CLOSER LOOK enjambment similie Keats does a lot with these few lines. He begins by examining how though he is experiencing pain knowing that he will die, it is in fact a "luxury" thing because upon his death he will no longer feel those things. only word with no
rhyme could be seen as
contrasting enjambment ASK YOURSELF:
How much should you reflect on death?
Should you obsess over the unavoidable?
Will all things truly fade with time? Isn't this unusual? Keats keeps the sestet enact, but alters
the structure of this Petrarchan sonnet
by making mortality the only word in the entire poem with no other word rhyming
with it-- thus making it stand out. *Notice that a lot of the morbid language is found in the octave. THE SESTET
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