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|Ode On A Grecian Urn John Keats
A picture of a piper playing a pipe beneath the trees and a bold lover chasing his girl is shown on one side of a Grecian urn. Different from real life, everything on the urn (ie. the situations) is locked in time, frozen forever at the moment of highest perfection. Thus the piper will always play his music "unwearied", the trees will forever blossom and never lose its leaves, and although, locked in time, the young man who is about to kiss his girl can only "win near the goal", yet, she will always be there to be embraced, signifying an immortal love.
This leads to the exclamations in stanza 3. The effect of the repetition of the words "happy" and "for ever" emphasize the perpetual happiness in its moment of perfection. Yet this makes the speaker grow aware of himself: he will eventually die, but the figures on the urn (locked in a moment in time) will live forever. And when the speaker's world passed away, this beautiful object will still remain. And in this awareness he became sorrowful.
Yet, in stanza 4, this aspect of the urn is treated differently. It sees such perfection from a different pint of view, and that is to put it back in time. By doing so, it presents to us a goal that can never be achieved, and that is to return back to town. This makes us be awared of of a similar instance in the previous stanza which the speaker adapt a positive point of view and does not intend to mention, and that is, the lover will never achieve his goal of kissing the girl. And so, If the lover has a heart to feel, won't he feel as "desolate" as the little town?
In the last stanza, the cliche-like expression "Beauty is truth, truth beauty" reflelcts the fact that art (beauty) is immortal, as truth is immortal. When generations after generations waste away, the perfect moments on the urn remains in eternity (which draws our attention to the phrase "Thou silent form, dost tease us out of thought/ As doth eternity"). But why does the speaker say to the urn "that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know"? I recalled from "The Importance of Being Earnest" Algernon saying "The truth is rarely pure and never simply" when in actual fact the cliche is usually that "The truth is pure and simple". So by saying "Beauty is truth, truth beauty", he is saying that the beauty of art is in its simplicity (which the reality of human life is not as it is much more complicated). And the concept of its simpleness is all that the urn needs to know (or rather, to express).
In this sense, we can conclude that the speaker goes through an empathic process of entering into the urn and understanding it, as well as leave the urn and see it as a whole.
Ozymandias Percy Bysshe Shelly