Review of "Ode on a Grecian Urn" by John Keats

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  • Published : October 8, 1999
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Review of "Ode on a Grecian Urn" by John Keats

The "Ode on a Grecian Urn" portrays what Keats sees on the urn himself, only his view of what is going on. The urn, passed down through many centuries portrays the image that everything that is going on on the urn is frozen.

In the first stanza, the speaker, standing before an ancient Grecian urn uses apostrophe when he speaks to the urn as if it is alive.

The speaker describes the pictures as if they are frozen in time. It is the "still unravish'd bride of quietness," "foster-child of silence and slow time." He speaks to the urn and not about the urn, he treats the urn like it is listening to him like a human. He also describes the urn as a "historian," which can tell a story. He wonders about the figures on the side of the urn, and asks what legend they portray, and where they are from. Keats uses an oxy moron "unravish'd bride" meaning a virgin bride, a bride who has not been taken though she is married.

In the second stanza, the speaker looks at another picture on the urn, this time of a young man playing a pipe, lying with his love beneath a tree. The speaker says that the piper's "unheard" melody's are sweeter than to a mortal's ear or melody, because they are unaffected by time. Though he can never kiss his lover because he is frozen in time, He should not grieve because her beauty will never fade.

In the third stanza, he looks at the trees surrounding the lovers, and feels happy that

they will never shed their leaves; he is happy for the piper because his songs will be "for ever new," and happy that the love of the boy and the girl will last forever, unlike mortal love, which slowly turns into "breathing human passion," and eventually vanishes, leaving behind only a "burning forehead, and a parching tongue."

In the fourth stanza, the speaker examines another picture on the urn, this one of a group of villagers leading a heifer to be sacrificed. He wonders...
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