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'The ode is used as a poetic form for philosophical contemplation.' Compare two odes by Keats in light of this observation.

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2010-07-11 ?The Ode is used as a poetic form for philosophical contemplation.? Compare two odes by Keats in the light of this observation Ode on a Grecian Urn and Ode to a Nightingale were written in May 1819, a time in Keats? life which he devoted entirely to poetry. Both of these poems contemplate the poet?s approaching death, using stimuli of what is on the face of a Grecian vase and the song of a nightingale. There are differences and similarities between the two poems, and both will be looked at in the essay. Both of the above poems are odes. An ode is a form of poetry about emotion. First used by the Romans and Greeks, the form was revived in England in the 17th century. The form was popular among the English Romantic poets. A typical verse of an ode consists of a quatrain with a rhyme structure of ABAB and a sestet with a rhyme structure of CDECDE. However, Keats tended to be more liberal with his rhyme structures in his odes. Keats was born in 1795 and was the last born of the English romantic poets He became interested in poetry through his secondary school headmaster, who introduced him to Renaissance poetry and so the ode. Both of his parents died before he turned fifteen, so he became familiar with loss at an early age. ...read more.


This is almost the same in Ode to a Nightingale, apart from on the eighth line, where it is in iambic trimeter. This is perhaps to mimic the slightly intermittent sound of a nightingale?s song. The tone of both odes is similar when compared to other poetry, but each is slightly different. The tone of Ode on a Grecian Urn starts out as questioning: ?What men or gods are these??, as the poet tries to understand what is on the vase. Then, the speaker becomes jealous of the ?happy, happy love? the urn?s people will always be anticipating. He is also reminiscing of his own youth, where he asked Fanny Brawne to marry him. Unfortunately, he could not marry her at the time because of financial circumstances and later, he grew too ill to ever get married. This is particularly apparent when he depicts a ?Bold lover? chasing a girl who can ?never, never? be with. Towards the end of the poem, Keats? tone becomes more solemn as he realises when he and his generation are gone, the urn ?shalt remain?. Ode to a Nightingale begins more sombrely than its counterpart, as Keats describes his terrible physical state, partially due to opium: ?a drowsy numbness pains /My sense?. He then becomes wistful, similar to his emotions during the other ode, as he hankers for ?a draught of vintage?. ...read more.


These can be compared to Keats? feverous symptoms of tuberculosis. Both show that they are alive, and when they go it will because of old age, in the urn?s people?s case, or death, in Keats? case. More generally, there is a contrast between the coldness of the urn and the warmth of the figures on it. Urns were for people?s ashes, a link between coldness and death. Keats? main concern are the figures on the urn, as the ode is ?on? rather than ?to? the urn. They are young, happy and healthy and so connotes life with heat. A reoccurring word in both odes is ecstasy. The urn?s figures are in a ?wild ecstasy?, and the nightingale sings ?In such an ecstasy!?. The phrase is so important, it abandons the stanza?s rhyme structure. As it is an extreme emotion, it can be used for both the deep depression the poet is in and the euphoria his characters are in. In conclusion, both Ode on a Grecian Urn and Ode to a Nightingale contemplate, above all, the writer mortality and the use of beauty to soften its effects. The Grecian urn and nightingale, the inspiration for the poet, are both beautiful works of art. The nightingale as well as the insouciant figures on the urn?s contrast with the speaker?s feelings of despair and depression. The speaker is both superior to them, in knowledge and age, but inferior to them, in health and happiness. C ...read more.

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