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Ode on a Grecian Urn - New Criticism.

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Introduction

Ode on a Grecian Urn - New Criticism John Keats' poem Ode on a Grecian Urn describes an urn and the way it makes him feel. The poem begins by asking questions about the characters depicted on the urn and leads into the speaker's feelings of eternity and death. This is followed by a show of frustration and a restatement of the speaker's feelings on eternity. In actuality, the entire poem is the speaker comparing the people and events depicted on the urn to life. Therefore, the urn is symbolic, as it embodies the meaning of life for the speaker. The poem is written about a Grecian urn, not literally but as a symbol for the speaker's feelings about life. ...read more.

Middle

"What leaf-fringed legend haunts about thy shape/Of deities or mortals, or of both/ ... /What men or gods are these? What maidens loath? ..." (ln 5-8) However, by looking at the urn, he receives no answers only sees a superficial view of the characters he seeks. "With brede/Of marble men and maidens overwrought, /With forest branches and the trodden weed; ..." (ln 41-43) The speaker voices his feelings about eternal life and compares his feelings to the fact that the urn will always be there to represent the person contained therein. "... little town, thy streets for evermore/Will silent be ..." (ln 38-39) The comparison to the urn states that as time passes, the urn will always be there regardless of the events of the world. ...read more.

Conclusion

What the speaker is doing, is reading a quote that is written on the urn and the fact that the poem ends on this note signifies that this quote somehow answers any questions the speaker needs answered. There is no way to know what this answers because it should mean something different to everybody who reads it. "Beauty is truth, truth beauty" is meant to be a "universal truth". The statement isn't necessarily the meaning of life for everybody because life is what you make it, but it is all the meaning Keats needed to resolve whatever issues he was having with life or the lack thereof. It is for that reason that the statement stands out as much as it does in the poem. Ironically, Keats' meaning of life is coming from an object that is designed to contain death. Soulliere 1 ...read more.

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