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|Ode On a Grecian Urn
In this poem, Keats appreciated the urn of its two delicate pictures of love and religious worship in ancient time. He walked into the frozen moment of beauty meanwhile he thought about real human life. What a permanence of art which survives human beings! But, what a difference between art and life!
For the piper and his lover, their love frozen on the urn as a history. The piper yearned for her, but not won her love yet. The girl*s beauty is there forever, so does the piper*s hopeful passion. Keats imagined the story of this picture about the piper under a tree, with his wonderful music, and the beauty he was chasing. He said "All happy, happy boughs*, happy melodies,*, happy love*, Forever warm and still to be enjoyed*.", but also "leaves a heart high-sorrowful and cloyed, A burning forehead, and a parching tongue." He adored this forever love in the art, meanwhile sensed that it was not really happy for human beings, for he used apostrophe in the third stanza. He extracted from the art of music and love at last.
Then, in the fourth stanza, he fell into the other side of the urn again. He felt the passion of those prayerful people who were on their way out of town to sacrifice. Then a sense of human concern came upon to him: All men went out to worship God, and the town was out of human beings, like a ghost town, without a soul. Once again, he led himself out of the great moment of this pious morn and concerned about the other side of this permanence.
The urn frozen the moment of beauty forever, thus let following generations to appreciate it. The moment of history somehow survived the good of human beings. But it is cold, for it is not a part of human life anymore. So Keats became sympathetic in the last stanza, since he said, "When old age shall this generation waste, Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe." He concerned human life more than appreciated art. A piece of Art is just one of human*s work. Human know more than what a mere work shows, for art cannot present life truly. That*s why "Beauty is truth, truth beauty". That*s all you know on earth, and all you need to know. Keats valued human highly than a work of art which is thought to be respected.
I think it*s a special way of valuing a work of art. Usually we only think about the untouchable perfection of art. It seems that a piece of art is far above our human beings and we usually neglect that art is created by us. So a work of art not only shows the beauty or greatness which seems immortal, but contends a story of men*s life which is more likely as everyone is leading now.
Ozymandias of Egypt
Unlike the previous one, Shelley didn*t see the visage by himself. He was told by a traveler and the traveler was told by the words on the ruins about the great king-Ozymancias.
As an Italian sonnet, the octave is the description from the traveler, and the second part-sestet is words from Ozymandias and the strong conflicts from the pedestal*s surroundings. The ending is quite ironic for the great king standing, half wrecked, alone in the desert, without a one nearby, but only with the words of his own pride.
Keats involves himself in the urn, while Shelley is an outsider who is listening a traveler talking about the antique sculptor of Ozymandias. So from this poem, we cannot know what exactly Shelley was thinking as we can from reading "Ode on a Grecian Urn", but between lines and words, the irony of the ambitious king and the past of motionless time is quite obvious.
Once the king commended an artist to build a great sculptor for him to show "king of kings, Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!" But as time goes by, only the sneer of cold command is survived, from which the passion still can be read. How ironic is all of these stamped on lifeless things and the hand mocked them, and the heart fed.
Through the story-telling style, the author didn*t empathy the old art, or we couldn*t feel the conflicts between the king and the boundless desert so well. For Shelley, the antique sculptor is a mere story. For how long can a great king*s ambition last? No mater how hard to create an image of his own and carve words of his power, still it will be destroyed by nature, by time. What left is pieces of it which mocked his pride, as the traveler saw and as Shelley was told, and also, as we readers read.
"Ode on a Grecian Urn" and "Ozymandias of Egypt" are two different types of romantic poets about art. Keats still show his respect to the urn, but Shelley merely showed the remains of the sculptor and its irony. Both of them reveal one thing that a work of art cannot preserve anything for human beings. It*s a piece of history, and only shows a small aspect of the past. The love and the prayerful people on the urn shows a permanence which human beings won*t long for to live in. And the power and ambition of the king no longer exists except the remains he left.