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Ode on a Grecian Urn by John Keats

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Talia A

on 23 October 2013

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Transcript of Ode on a Grecian Urn by John Keats

Ode on a Grecian Urn by John Keats
John Keats
Ode on a Grecian Urn
John Keats
Ode on a Grecian Urn
Sound Devices
Assonance: In "Bold Lover, never, never canst thou kiss," the "e" sound links the lovers with the idea that they are completely unable to kiss.

Consonance: In "Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone", the repeated "t" sound in "spirit", "ditties" and "tone" emphasizes how the songs being played to the Gods by the piper do not actually make a physical sound.

Dissonance: In "Who are these coming to the sacrifice?", the hard "c" sound in "coming" and "sacrifice" bring negative feelings about the sacrifice of the young cow.

Alliteration: In "Of marble men and maidens overwrought," the repeated "m" sound at the beginning of the words brings forth a clearer picture of the images of people depicted on the urn.
by Talia Andreottola
Stanza 1
Thou still unravished bride of quietness,
Thou foster-child of silence and slow time,
Sylvan historian, who canst thus express
A flow'ry tale more sweetly than our rhyme:
What leaf-fringed legend haunts about thy shape
Of deities or mortals, or of both,
In Tempe or the dales of Arcady?
What men or gods are these? What maidens loth?
What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape?
What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy?
Stanza 2
Stanza 4
Stanza 3
With the help of Leigh Hunt, who published his sonnets in the Examiner, he was able to write poetry
Introduced to Percy Bysshe Shelley and William Wordsworth, as well as other influential literary geniuses
Keats’ first book of poems, Poems by John Keats, was published in 1817 and Endymion was published the next year
The volume received overwhelming negative criticism

Born Oct 31, 1795
Lost both of his parents by the age of 14.
His guardians were London merchants named Richard Abbey and John Rowland Sandell
Friends with headmaster, John Clarke
At 15, Keats began to apprentice with an apothecary surgeon
Keats eventually gained a license and became an apothecary, but never continued that career
Spent 1818 in Scotland, but forced to take care of brother, Tom
Fell in love with Fanny Brawne, prompting a more mature style of writing
He began writing a poem called “Hyperion”, but stopped at brother's death
He returned to it and rewrote it, renamed “The Fall of Hyperion”, did not get published until 1856.
In July 1820, he published Lamia, Isabella, The Eve of St. Agnes, and Other Poems.
Figurative Language
Stanza 5

"John Keats." The Biography Channel. A&E Networks Television, 2013. Web. Oct. 2013. <http://www.biography.com/people/john-keats-9361568>.

"John Keats." The Poetry Foundation. Harriet Monroe Poetry Institute, 2013. Web. Oct. 2013. <http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/john-keats>.

"John Keats." Poets.org. Academy of American Poets, 2013. Web. Oct. 2013. <http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/66>.

Contained “Ode on a Grecian Urn” and unfinished “Hyperion”, praised by Shelley and others, got tuberculosis before he could write more poetry
Could not keep in touch with Fanny out of sadness. They did not get married due to his illness
Keats moved to Rome with Joseph Severn, where he died on February 23, 1821, at age of 25
Speaker: John Keats

Audience: A Grecian urn and images engraved on it

Poem type: Lyric poem

Purpose: To explain that the only Truth that humans can understand is Beauty.

Figurative Language Cont.
Simile: "Thou, silent form, dost tease us out of thought / As doth eternity,"
Compares how the silence of the urn makes people that look at it have to think with the way eternity makes us think: they both make us question many things and keep us wondering.

Metaphor: "Sylvan historian, who canst thus express / A flow'ry tale more sweetly than our rhyme"
Compares the urn to a Sylvan historian; they both posses information regarding the past and tell stories of history. Additionally, Sylvan means something pertaining to trees, and the stories on the urn are decorated with leaves and trees.

Symbol "To what green altar?"
The altar symbolizes the religion, Church or Gods that the villagers are offering the cow to as a sacrifice.

Euphemism: "When old age shall this generation waste"
Old age is a nicer way of saying death, which is what Keats knows will his fate will soon be.
In this stanza, Keats addresses a Grecian urn, which he describes as married to quietness and "adopted" by silence and time , because the urn is unable to tell stories on its own. The urn is compared to a Sylvan historian, because they both tell stories pertaining to nature. Keats says that the urn tells stories better than he does with his poems. He wonders if the urn, decorated with leaves, depicts gods or humans. He also asks where the scenes are set - in Tempe or Arcady (places in Greece).

He tries to figure out the first image on the urn, where men are chasing after women. He wants to know what the reason is.
Synecdoche: "Thy streets for evermore / Will silent be; and not a soul to tell," The souls represent the entire population of villagers that will not be present in the town.

Metonymy: During Keats' time, "the dales of Arcady" would have been closely associated with Arcadia, a part of Greece where the people were said to have to have lived care-free.

Personification: The entire poem can be considered an example of personification, because the urn is not able to "express a flow'ry tale" or "tease us out of thought" consciously.

Apostrophe: The entire poem is an example of apostrophe, because John Keats is addressing the urn, which is incapable of human response.

Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on;
Not to the sensual ear, but, more endeared,
Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone:
Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave
Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare;
Bold Lover, never, never canst thou kiss,
Though winning near the goal—yet, do not grieve;
She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss,
For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair!
Keats notes that the pipe music he imagines playing in the image on the urn sounds better than music in real life. He says that the piper cannot stop playing his song, just as the trees in the image cannot lose their leaves because they are a permanent part of the urn. Because of this, the piper cannot kiss his lover next to him, but that he should not be sad because neither she nor her beauty or their love can disappear either.
Ah, happy, happy boughs! that cannot shed
Your leaves, nor ever bid the Spring adieu;
And, happy melodist, unwearied,
For ever piping songs for ever new;
More happy love! more happy, happy love!
For ever warm and still to be enjoyed,
For ever panting, and for ever young;
All breathing human passion far above,
That leaves a heart high-sorrowful and cloyed,
A burning forehead, and a parching tongue.
Keats describes the trees as happy because the images of them will never lose their leaves. He calls the piper happy because he song will not end, and neither will he love with the maiden.
He says that love in real life is much different, and requires suffering - it ends with a hurting heart, as well as "A burning forehead, and a parching tongue."
Who are these coming to the sacrifice?
To what green altar, O mysterious priest,
Lead’st thou that heifer lowing at the skies,
And all her silken flanks with garlands drest?
What little town by river or sea shore,
Or mountain-built with peaceful citadel,
Is emptied of this folk, this pious morn?
And, little town, thy streets for evermore
Will silent be; and not a soul to tell
Why thou art desolate, can e’er return.

The next image is of a young cow (heifer lowing) being led to be sacrificed by a large group of villagers. He wonders what the town is like where they come from. Keats notes that wherever the town is, it is surely empty because every villager is attending the sacrifice of the cow on a green altar. The image is unable to change, so the townspeople are forever trapped and will not be able to return home.

O Attic shape! Fair attidude! with brede
Of marble men and maidens overwrought,
With forest branches and the trodden weed;
Thou, silent form, dost tease us out of thought
As doth eternity: Cold Pastoral!
When old age shall this generation waste,
Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe
Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say'st,
"Beauty is truth, truth beauty, — that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know."

In the final stanza, Keats describes the urn as made in ancient Attica. It is a beautiful urn that is embroidered (brede) and depicts men and women in the marble, surrounded by trees and leaves. Although the urn does not vocalize the stories it tells, it make the viewers think intensely about the meaning, in the same way that people question eternity. He calls the urn "Cold pastoral" because it is made of cold marble and is immovable. He says that when he dies, the urn will remain the same. The urn will continue spread the message that everyone needs to know: "Beauty is truth, and truth is beauty."
Sound Devices Cont.
Repetition: In "Bold Lover, never, never canst thou kiss," the repetition of "never" emphasizes how impossible it is for the lovers to kiss.

Internal Rhyme: "Not to the sensual ear, but more endeared," explains that Keats cannot physically hear music being played by the piper but can he can imagine it.

Onomatopoeia: "Breathing" this word sounds like the sound of a deep breath.
Full transcript