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John Keat's Odes

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Introduction

Ode to John Keats "They believed that the imagination stands in some essential relation to truth and reality" (Maurice Bowra) shows how the romantics believed to find truth and reality, not through reason, such as that of the era before, but through the imagination. The romantics saw beauty through nature and isolation. Keats is no exception using his language to bring forth his vivid imagination and in doing so brings forth a truth that can only be reached through the journey of his poetry. This can be seen in both "Ode to a Nightingale" and "Ode on a Grecian Urn". Through "Ode to a Nightingale" Keats is trying to escape reality and go on a journey using the euphoria that he feels when listening to the Nightingale. In the first few stanzas, Keats relates the song of the Nightingale to a drugged state, feeling as if he had drunk hemlock or "emptied some dull opiate to the drains". The melancholy that appears from this language, along with the slow rhythm, is contradicted with his happiness which that the melancholy has stemmed from ("being too happy in thine happiness"). ...read more.

Middle

The nightingale's immortality is seen further through the capitalisation of the first letter of "Bird" - suggesting that the nightingale is more powerful than death. He also uses the references to history and mythology to emphasise that nightingale's immortality. "Light-winged Dryad of the trees" emphasises this mysterious quality of the nightingale from the beginning, also giving it a beauty that cannot be found in reality. It is this beauty that has led him on the path to seek truth. In the last stanza, Keats is highly aware that it is his language that has led him to a truth and reality. The word "Forlorn" has brought his out of his imagination, yet there is the sense that Keats has realised that it is impossible to stay in his state of happiness and that reality is inescapable. This links back to the melancholy of the first stanza where he has already realised the drugged state will not last. Yet he has still reached a truth in his poem, and to keep the truth that will ease the pain of death he must keep the nightingale's song pure and keep it separate from reality. ...read more.

Conclusion

He also tries to humanise the pictures on the urn by giving them urban settings - "little town by river or sea-shore" - yet by doing this he seems to lose some aspect of the mythical nature. He ends the ode ambiguity, even though he has a sense of awe to the urn, he starts to see it as lifeless - "Cold Pastoral". At the same time he sees it as a form of poetry. Yet he does make a conclusion that whatever his final view on the urn its beauty his imagination created has led him to the truth - "Beauty is truth, truth beauty". It is in 'Ode on a Grecian Urn' that Keats questions the nature of the urn and its stories, thus his imagination has brought him closer to the truth and reality. In concluding, through 'Ode on a Grecian Urn' and 'Ode to a Nightingale' Keats uses language to bring forth truth and reality that he has found in the beauty of nature and isolation. This is common in the romantic era showing how: "they believed that the imagination stands in some essential relation to truth and reality". Dean Exikanas ...read more.

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