Ode On A Grecian Urn Analysis Essay

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Maddie Lewis
Mr. C G5
English H IV
Research Paper
The poem I am researching is Ode on a Grecian Urn written by John Keats. Ode on a Grecian Urn was written in 1819, the year in which Keats contracted tuberculosis. Keats died of tuberculosis a year later, making Ode on a Grecian Urn his last poem. The poem consists of a person talking to a Greek pot known as an “urn” which is made of marble. Majority of the poem centers on the story told in the images carved on the urn. Ode on a Grecian Urn is written encompassing both life and art, Keats uses Ode on a Grecian urn as a symbol of life. Critics and readers esteem the imagery of Ode on a Grecian Urn, which focuses on the symbolism and identification of the urn itself, and represents illustrated
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James Shokoff wrote a literary criticism over my poem Ode on a Grecian Urn. Shokoff is a journalist, and strongly discusses his opinion on the poem in Soul-Making in ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn. Shokoff believes that the question he does not have answered in the poem remains an unsolved mystery. Shokoff agrees with my thesis that symbolism and identification is not a weakness of the poem, but shows great significance. In this criticism the main question is, is the “beauty-truth identification a consistent, meaningful conclusion to the poem” (Shokoff)? Or are “those who believe that Keats is, in his greatest poetry, less yearning after an ideal than recognizing and affirming the value of the real world in which he and we all live” (Shokoff)? Certainly this is a question that is difficult to answer, but I agree with this critic that the meaning of the poem’s final two lines are questionable. Once again, the identification and symbolism of the urn is involved. Keats states that “’Beauty is truth, truth beauty/ —that is all/ Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know’”(Keats 50). I myself and James Shokoff wonder if the urn itself speaks these lines as a message to the world, or is the poet making this statement? Shokoff explains that “disagreement arises out of the variation in punctuation found in the poem’s early editions” (Shokoff). Should the internal quotation marks surround only “Beauty is truth, truth beauty” to reflect a speaking urn, or should the entire…show more content…
My second critic is Jean-Claude Salle. Salle is a journalist. Salle believes the ode presents a retrospective of Keats’s thought, and submits early beliefs to the test of mature reflections. I agree with Salle on this idea.The figures depicted on the Urn at first symbolises to the poet, that man’s ability to idealize earthly beauty is the “intimation of a form of immortality consonant with the heart’s desires” (Salle). This perception lines up with my thesis of Ode on a Grecian Urn using symbolism to represent the urn. Salle explains that Keats’s imagination rediscovers, with enthusiasm, the possibility of believing in its own secret dream of an “immortality of passion” (Salle). It is also remarked by critics that the very ambiguity of the Urn makes it “peculiarly appropriate to serve as a focus for Keats’s reflections on the meaning of imaginative experience” (Salle). I agree with this and that the identification of the urn itself, has greater meaning to John Keats. I think the Urn objectifies the ambiguity of Keats’s “sensations” (Salle). The urn is seen as a messenger from eternity, as an “ethereal thing” (Keats 4). As a conclusion to this criticism, Salle sees past the symbolism of the urn, and believes it has deeper meaning to
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