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"Ode on a Grecian Urn" by John Keats (read by Tom O'Bedlam)
Ode on a Grecian Urn Poem by John Keats
Andrew has a keen interest in all aspects of poetry and writes extensively on the subject. His poems are published online and in print. Ode On A Grecian Urn focuses on art, beauty, truth and time and is one of Keats' five odes, considered to be some of the best examples of romantic poetry. The poem is an example of ekphrasis , a Greek word meaning to describe a work of visual art in words. Keats believed that spontaneous sensations of the heart held the truth, as opposed to the dry, reasoning mind. In a letter to a friend Benjamin Bailey on 22 November he wrote:. What the Imagination seizes as Beauty must be truth - whether it existed before or not - for I have the same Idea of all our Passions as of Love they are all in their sublime, creative of essential Beauty -.
John Keats practically defines the term "Romantic. He was raised in a middle-class family, unlike many of the more aristocratic Romantics such as William Wordsworth , and critics mocked him as a small town boy and an upstart. His first poems were either made fun of or ignored, and he never succeeded in becoming famous or respected during his short life. Keats died of tuberculosis at the age of 25, shortly after the publication of his last book of poems, which included the "Ode on a Grecian Urn. But his early death has only increased the myth and aura of the Romantic Keats.
Scholars have been unable to agree to whom the last thirteen lines of the poem are addressed. Arguments can be made for any of the four most obvious possibilities, -poet to reader, urn to reader, poet to urn, poet to figures on the urn. The issue is further confused by the change in quotation marks between the original manuscript copy of the ode and the published edition. This issue is further discussed at the bottom of this page. You can view part of the earliest known manuscript below.
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Keats found earlier forms of poetry unsatisfactory for his purpose, and the collection represented a new development of the ode form. He was inspired to write the poem after reading two articles by English artist and writer Benjamin Haydon. Keats was aware of other works on classical Greek art, and had first-hand exposure to the Elgin Marbles , all of which reinforced his belief that classical Greek art was idealistic and captured Greek virtues, which forms the basis of the poem. Divided into five stanzas of ten lines each, the ode contains a narrator's discourse on a series of designs on a Grecian urn. The poem focuses on two scenes: one in which a lover eternally pursues a beloved without fulfillment, and another of villagers about to perform a sacrifice. Critics have focused on other aspects of the poem, including the role of the narrator, the inspirational qualities of real-world objects, and the paradoxical relationship between the poem's world and reality.
Although he died at the age of twenty-five, Keats had perhaps the most remarkable career of any English poet. He published only fifty-four poems, in Prose Home Harriet Blog. Visit Home Events Exhibitions Library. Newsletter Subscribe Give.