Eternity Versus Reality in Ode on a Grecian Urn Essay

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November 5st 2013 Eternity Versus Reality in Ode on a Grecian Urn In John Keats’ “Ode on a Grecian Urn”, the notion of eternity and immortality is expressed by the speaker’s analysis of an ancient Greek urn. Given his use of language and technique, the reader sees a certain admiration from the author towards the urn. This admiration is seen particularly at the beginning of the poem, through Keats’ way of using personification and metaphor to connect the urn to a lively individual. However, as the poem progresses, Keats ironically comes to the realization that there is no such thing as eternity. Keats’ work shows contrasts between the frozen, eternal pictures present on the urn and the variable, unpredictable aspects of reality. He shows these contrasts through his use paradox and figurative language. Keats begins the poem by comparing the urn to a person; he says it is a “bride of quietness” or the “foster-child of silence and slow time”. He then goes on to saying it is a “Sylvan historian”(1-3). Here, the author is implying that the pictures represented on the urn have the ability to tell stories about the urn’s past. In this line, Keats’ use of personification also produces a paradox. As the poem suggest, the pictures present on the urn represent eternity since they are frozen in time. However, being “frozen” in time also suggests lifelessness, coldness, and emptiness. In reality, an urn may represent death or darkness since it is often used to hold ashes, but Keats ironically makes the urn seem lively and eternal, since those pictures will never fade. Keats’ goes to on to question the depictions on the urn, saying, “What leaf-fringed legend haunts about thy shape
 Of deities or mortals, or of both […] What men or gods are these?”(5-9). The juxtaposition between gods and mortals show a contrast between eternity and reality. Since “gods” are

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