Art Over Life Essay
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An ode is a form of lyric poetry where the poet reveals his personality. He shares his thoughts, feelings and opinions as we see through his eyes. Keats’s odes were very majestic and full of imagination. The two poems Ode to a Nightingale and Ode on a Grecian Urn are very similar in their structure and message. Keats was tired of the mortal world and could only see the negative things in his life and so he looked for an escape.
It wasn’t only his own pain that depressed him, it was the pain of his brother who was dying and we can see evidence of this in this quote;
“The weariness, the fever, the fret. Here, where men sit and hear each other groan. Where palsy shakes a few last grey hairs. ” Both Ode to a Nightingale and Ode to a Grecian Urn have similarities in them. In Ode to a Nightingale and Ode the speaker opens with a declaration of his own heartache. He feels as if he is numb and “as though of hemlock I had drunk,” he then addresses a nightingale he hears singing somewhere in the forest. He says in this opening stanza that he is not envious of the nightingale because it is so happy.
Keats appreciated nature and saw it in some ways superior to humans. In “Ode To A Grecian Urn” Keats imagine what the people on the urn were doing when the picture on the urn was painted. He reflects on the idea of a thing of beauty living on past his lifetime and he rejoices in the fact that the urn will never change. As you can see in both poems Keats’s glee is based on the fact that both the Nightingales song and the people on the Urn will never change and they will live on past his lifetime.
This is the same for Keats’s poems; all the beauty within them live on past Keats’s lifetime and generation. Both poems convey immortality one through a living thing and one through a still object. We can almost sense that Keats uses beauty in his poems to escape the harsh life of the mortal world and he sees beauty in things that are not human. This is the case in both of the poems. Beauty is almost compensation for life and Keats fully appreciates beauty and escapes through writing about beauty.
He realises then at the end of the Ode to a Nightingale poem that escaping to the nightingale’s world is not as good as the mortal world. He bases this decision on the fact that in the mortal you experience both the good and bad intensely but this is better than no intense feeling at all. There is also a complicated ending in “Ode To A Grecian Urn” in the part he says “Beauty is truth, truth beauty, – and that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know”.