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Images and figurative language used in the ode to grecian urn

Ode on a Grecian Urn: Imagery, symbolism and themes Imagery and symbolism in Ode on a Grecian Urn The ode is literally a series of images which are described and reflected upon.

The Grecian urn symbolise s an important paradox for Keats: It is a symbol of beauty and of immortality, whilst at the same time reminding human beings of just how brief their own life and passions are in comparison.

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The urn The urn itself is referred to in a series of images: The phrase suggests that although its beauty cannot fade, it cannot be part of the warmth and emotional intensity which comes from being human. Scenes depicted Then there are the images depicted on the surface of the urn — and it is these which are offered for description and contemplation.

These images undoubtedly tell a story, but at this distance in time we cannot know exactly what the story is. Instead the urn and its decorations now stand for an ideal of artistic beauty.

The images are still bright and clear but the whole civilization that produced it has passed away — and so the questions which Keats poses about it can have no definitive answers. The urn is outside time and therefore avoids the fading beauty and destruction to which human lives are inevitably leading.

Related Questions

The images suggest both the beauty of art and also its distance from everyday reality. The trees on the urn will never shed their leaves. The people depicted will never lose their sense of vitality; the lovers will always be young and passionate.

The fourth stanza and its image of the sacrifice prompts Keats to ask unanswerable questions about the town from which the people have come — a town now devoid of its inhabitants.

  1. Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare.
  2. Who are these coming to the sacrifice? Beauty and truth are one in the same, and they are the most important components of knowledge.
  3. Keats uses several rhetorical questions in this poem. In contemplating the timelessness of pictorial art, Keats is also conscious that poetry works differently from pictures.

The image may be beautiful but its implications have darker overtones. The urn is immortal but reminds us of our own mortality. Investigating imagery and symbolism in Ode on a Grecian Urn Some readers have suggested that the urn symbolises both the beauty of perfection on the one hand — and cold sterility on the other. Do you agree with this assessment?

Analyse the effect of the images Keats uses to convey the story of each scene on the urn. Do the images suggest that art is good and that life is bad — or is their effect more complex than this? How many associations does this word have? Is Keats exploiting both the idea of fruitfulness as well as the possible sterility of non-consummation?

What are the literary devices in "Ode on a Grecian Urn"?

Themes in Ode on a Grecian Urn The temporal and the eternal Keats dwells in this poem on the pleasure and pain of art. The image also reminds us that the real people who inspired the image are now dead in the remote past. Because art fixes things and seems to make them eternal, it also reminds us that we have to live in a world of inevitable decay. In contemplating the timelessness of pictorial art, Keats is also conscious that poetry works differently from pictures. An image can be seen and comprehended in an instant; but the poet has to construct a narrative of events that happen in a sequence.

Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare.

What poetic techniques are used in "Ode on a Grecian Urn"?

Keats was particularly moved by the dynamic nature of the images on the urn. His friend Haydon was similarly impressed by this sort of art, writing in his diary: Different viewpoints What also fascinated Keats was the difference in viewpoint between the people depicted on the urn and that of the viewer. For instance in stanza 4 the mysteriously moving group fails to see the pathos of its own situation.

No one in this group seems remotely aware that, for the group to exist, the town from which they have come has had to be emptied: One reason for this is that there is disagreement about the punctuation of lines. In the volume of poems that Keats published in 1820, they were presented as follows: This has caused critics to disagree as to whether the urn speaks the whole two lines or whether the urn says just: It certainly seems to be a very definite and emphatic statement - which concludes a highly indeterminate poem that dwells on mystery rather than simply defined truths!

What does this poem suggest about the role of art? What evidence is there that, in Ode to a Grecian Urn, Keats is meditating on what happens when one creative imagination interacts with another?

  1. The fourth stanza and its image of the sacrifice prompts Keats to ask unanswerable questions about the town from which the people have come — a town now devoid of its inhabitants. This final apostrophe thus becomes an antithesis or contrast to his earlier joy, and relates that he is weighing the benefits of being a piece of art.
  2. Who are these coming to the sacrifice? It certainly seems to be a very definite and emphatic statement - which concludes a highly indeterminate poem that dwells on mystery rather than simply defined truths!
  3. What story is told Of god esse s and humans, or of both, In Tempe or the dales of Arcady? Do you agree with this assessment?
  4. As the poem hits its emotional highpoint, Keats is so absorbed in the urn that he cries out to the branches of the trees, the piping musician, and the lovers, saying.
  5. This has caused critics to disagree as to whether the urn speaks the whole two lines or whether the urn says just.

How does the poem treat the theme of time? To represent a thing or idea by something else through an association of ideas. A figure of speech wherein an apparently contradictory set of ideas is presented as being, in fact, part of the same truth.