Ode on the Grecian Urn

PosterĄG E.K TAN at 14:40:54 3/10/98 from h103.s119.ts.hinet.net

Ode on a Grecian Urn
E.K TAN 484011617
Through the description of the design on the urn, the speaker offers his own interpretation by means of imagination. In the first stanza, we see mere description of figures on the urn, the speaker presents his uncertainties towards the going-on of the urn's design, however that's not the main discussion of the poem he wants to bring up.
In the second stanza, the speaker points out that "heard melodies are sweet, but unheard melodies are sweeter.' Literary, he is praising the beauty of the pipes on the urn for its sensuality, on the other hand, he also sees the idea of beauty which we human is longing to obtain being presented, thus he requests "pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone." Next, the speaker talks about the youth with the song and trees that shall never be bare. These seems to hint us of the idea of eternity, as the youth and trees will always be in the state they are in as long as the art passes on with time. Just like the Bold Lover, time freezes at the point of perfection whereby he is about to gain happiness, although it was put to a still, she will always be there, for he will love forever. Reality plays an important part in life, nothing is interminable, trees grow old and love is not necessary pure and endless. We sense the envy of the speaker towards this ideal stage.
The idea of eternity is further enhanced in the third stanza. Happiness is put into relation with this idea, as the speaker is envious of trees that blossom in spring forever, the happy melodist who is able to produce songs that are ever new and nevertheless the everlasting love. Thus he says "For ever warm and still to be enjoyed, for ever panting, and for ever young." How he hope he could put time to a still and preserve the best moment. At this point, he switches to "All breathing human passion far above… and a parching tongue." so that a contrast between real life and the ideal state could be made. Such a contrast, other than making one feels sad to be in a world of realism, enables one to appreciate the stuff offered by the art. I am extremely "disturbed" by the word "breathing" used at the point of the switch, as it is the expression of life which pushes me back to real life without notice.
In this stanza, the speaker sees a sacrifice of a heifer that is dressed with garlands whereby there is no altar or the little town. What seen is actually the journey of sacrifice. Just like what we have seen above for the trees, the bold lover etc, the picture is at the point nearest to the sacred destination but not actually obtaining it. The speaker again injects the idea of happiness at the highest point of perfection. He says "And, little town, thy streets for evermore will silent be." The town could be a miniature version of the real world. Folks in search of the perfect world (eternity) is away, what is left and not seen on the urn is the little town which will be ravished by time and eventually become desolated.
"Beauty is truth, truth beauty,ž that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know." This is actually a line with double meanings. As praise, the speaker talks about the beauty of the urn. "Beauty is truth, truth beauty" is the main idea of the poem. Through beauty we understand the importance of truth, on the other hand, by upholding truth, beauty is being appreciated. As sarcasm, the speaker is criticizing the urn for not being able to understand real life: the pains, sufferings and the ruthless devastation of time.
However, in another view, we can say that the speaker actually enters the world of the urn. As in what we have read last semester, I wandered lonely as a cloud, both poem act as a comfort to we readers, as they both soothe the unpleasant feeling within ourselves either due to isolation or woes in this world of realism. They armed we readers with ability to live on with an optimistic attitude. Thus, "Beauty is truth, truth beauty."


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