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Ode on a Grecian Urn

Categories: LiteratureOdeWriting

Ode on a Grecian Urn

In the other poem “Ode on a Grecian Urn” Keats writes “beneath the trees, thou canst leave” this shows imagery of forever young, the way in which Keats is trying to become immortal. In “Ode to Autumn” Keats has realised that he no longer needs to imagine being immortal and he has become cognizant of the meanings and reason of life. He has given up the quest to escape the human world.

Time passing and transience also play a major part in these poems.

In “Ode to a Nightingale”, Keats uses the nightingale to escape. He feels as though he wants to get away at the start of the poem, “and with thee fade away into the forest dim” (line 20) therefore this quote depicts this point well. As the poem progresses Keats starts to realise he cannot escape reality, this point I have already covered earlier in the poem. In “Ode on a Grecian Urn”, Keats is in a fantasy for example “Fair youth beneath trees, thou canst not leave” (line 15).

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He is letting his emotions ‘run free’ and this is why he has become surrounded by this fantasy. Not only does Keats feel that he can try and stop time, he also makes us feel as though the poem is slowing down. Keats manages to do this with a clever use of sentence structure; he creates a sluggardly lengthy atmosphere “To what green altar, O mysterious priest” (line 31) depicts this atmosphere well along with the rest of stanza 4.

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Vowel sounds also helps to add to the pace as they make the words seem much slower.

In “Ode to Autumn”, the first stanza shows Autumn maturing and coming to an end. Keats uses words such as “swell”, “plump” and “budding” (line 7-8) these words have long vowel sounds that may suggest time passing. This is because the sounds are long and go on for a while which may suggest how long Keats feel time takes to pass and also how long fruit takes to grow and mature into ripe fruit. Keats also includes soft warm sounds; these create a relaxed, calm and tranquil atmosphere of how Keats enjoys Autumn.

Change between “Ode on a Grecian Urn” and “Ode to a Nightingale”

He suggests that time has changed him; in the second stanza Keats feels that he has slowed down time dramatically. He has started to personify autumn; he imagines it to be associated with harvesting and the changing of one season to the other. Keats describes the atmosphere in a very dreamy way and it is shown in many of the sentences with a clever use of vocabulary “drowsed with the fume of poppies” (line 17) and this makes it feel as though time is slowing down. In “Ode to Autumn” we can clearly detect Keats’ ideas of time and these are that time is fulfilling, fresh, compelling and temporary. This is a change because in “Ode on a Grecian Urn” and “Ode to a Nightingale” Keats seems to feel very depressed and unhappy and upset at the thought of time passing.

Keats’ ideas are clearly evolving throughout “Ode to a Nightingale”. He is changing his feelings of ecstasy to emptiness and is also evolving his ideas and experiences. In “Ode on a Grecian Urn” early on Keats describes the figures on the urn as “happy, happy!” This extract shows his ecstasy. Keats then changes the feeling of ecstasy to emptiness which is shown here “emptied” and also “desolate”. Similarly these feelings are again experienced in “Ode to a Nightingale”. The extract “full throated ease”, here he is addressing the nightingale with a sense of ecstasy he then changes and feels emptiness towards the nightingale. We can see this feeling of emptiness towards the nightingale in the extract “Fairly lands forlorn” also this depicts emptiness as he realises that it will not be such a happy escape after all.

Ode to Autumn

In “Ode to Autumn” Keats can detect no clear change in his feelings of life. He appears to have a found a realistic balance between ecstasy and emptiness. Keats frame of mind seems to have become much more placid and constant; he seems to feel more relaxed with realisation of death. Language plays a very important role in the poems. In all three poems language is used to describe time passing.

In “Ode on a Grecian Urn” Keats’ long flowing sentences in the first stanza, this may suggest that Keats’ life is fluent and that he will live for a long time. Further on in the poem the sentences get shorter which may also suggest Keats feeling towards time passing in life. The structure of “Ode to a Nightingale” is similar to the structure of “Ode on a Grecian Urn”; the sentences are similar lengths and make the pace seem to flow well. Punctuation also helps add to the effect of time on Keats’ life.

In “Ode on a Grecian Urn” Keats uses exclamation marks to create suspense when talking about the figures on the urn. Capital letters are added in the middle of sentences in “Ode to a Nightingale” for example “Where Beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes,” therefore this is to make the feeling of envy towards the nightingale seem even more stronger than we first saw. The use of these words and punctuation builds up ecstatic time, the construction of these poems seems to suggest the structure of Keats’ life. In “Ode to Autumn” there is a very different structure to the first two poems. In the first stanza Keats makes it in to one whole sentence and has crammed lots of information into this sentence which reflects that he wants to live his life to the full. He tries to use sentence structure to low down time. Words with hard consonant sounds such as ‘s’, ‘m’ and ‘n’ all add to the structure.

In the third and final poem “Ode to Autumn” Keats feels that he has found his ultimate resolution and he also feels that he has challenged himself enough to have managed to forget about his mistakes. He compensates himself by saying autumn “hast thy music too” (line 24). He has given up his quest to escape and given up emptiness and ecstasy over happiness. Keats instead searches for resolution, acceptance and contentment. Throughout all of Keats’ experiences he has come to terms with life and how to handle problems, he can now enjoy life to the full and not have to worry about eventually dying.

Cite this page

Ode on a Grecian Urn. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from

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