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Ode on a Grecian Urn

Analysis of John Keats 'Ode on a Grecian Urn'
by

Ruby Fox

on 19 December 2012

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Transcript of Ode on a Grecian Urn

Ode on a Grecian Urn,
John Keats Analysis "Ode on a Grecian Urn", a poem written by John Keats in May 1819, and published in January 1820, is the reflection of the poet on the scenes depicted on a Grecian urn, and how they reflect upon his life. The poem deals with themes such as the contrast between art and life, humanity and its mortality, the purpose and reason of art, and the paradox of characters free from time, and yet frozen within time. What is it all about? Structure was very important to poets of Keats' era, and he was no different. The rhyming scheme of "Ode on a Grecian Urn" is important to the structure of ideas within the poem. There are 5 stanzas and 10 lines in each. The first 4 lines of each stanza follows the basic ABAB pattern, and the main idea in the stanza is usually identified in these lines. But how does it do this? The next 6 lines of each stanza elaborate the idea. The rhyming scheme in these 6 lines changes between stanzas, and this creates variety in the rhythm of the poem. For example: and then... Stanza 1 follows the rhyming scheme:
A Thou still unravishe'd bride of quiteness
B Thou foster-child of silence and slow time
A Sylvan historian, who canst thus express
B A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme
C What leaf -fringed legend haunts about thy shape
D Of deities or mortals, or of both
E In Tempe or the dales of Arcady
D What men or gods are these? What maidens loth?
C What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape?
E What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy? This means: In the first 4 lines (ABAB) the poet introduces the subject; the urn, and describes it as timeless, and ethereal, with powers to 'express/ A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme', as in, more sweetly than any mere mortal.
In the next 6 lines, structured (CDEDCE), The poet asks question of the urn, which gives the audience an idea of the type of image portrayed on it.
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