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Ode on a Grecian Urn - Critical Analysis

Uploaded by Admin on Jan 29, 2001

“More happy love! more happy, happy love!” (Keats, line 25). When one reads lines such as this, one cannot help but think that the poet must have been very, very happy, and that, in fact, the tone of the poem is light and filled with joy. However, this is not the case in John Keats’s poem, Ode on a Grecian Urn. At first glance, the tone of the poem seems light and flowery. However, when one looks deeper into the poem to find its underlying meanings, one discovers that the tone of the poem is very morbid. This is because the poem has two separate levels. Keats’s Ode on a Grecian Urn has a superficial level of happiness and joy, which acts as a façade for a deeper level of morbidity and death, most likely because of the fact that Keats was dying as he wrote this poem.

First of all, when one starts to read this poem, one cannot help but think that the tone is one of happiness. In fact, in the third stanza, Keats uses the word happy five times. The language of the poem is very flowery and beautiful, and it has the effect of lightening the deeper mood of the poem. For example, in the line “A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme:” (Keats, line 4), Keats is talking about the tale told by the urn. He is disguising it as sweet and flowery when, in reality, it is dark. The urn is symbolic of death. Another example is the lines “Forever warm and still to be enjoyed. Forever panting, and forever young:” (Keats, lines 26-27). In these two lines Keats is talking about the immortality established on this urn. However, he realizes that true immortality does not exist.

In this poem there are many references to death and sorrow. These are more difficult to find than the flowery images and ideas, and that is why they are said to be at a deeper level. One example is the lines,

What little town by river or seashore, Or mountain-built with peaceful citadel, Is emptied of this folk, this pious morn? And, little town, thy streets forevermore Will silent be; and not a soul to tell Why thou art desolate, can e’er return.
Keats (lines 35-40).
When one first reads these lines, one gets a sense of peace and tranquility. However, these lines are really rather bleak. They...

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Uploaded by:   Admin

Date:   01/29/2001

Category:   Poetry

Length:   3 pages (638 words)

Views:   2005

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