The Abstarct And The Tangible Essay Research

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The Abstarct And The Tangible Essay, Research Paper THE ABSTRACT AND THE TANGIBLE in JOHN KEATS’S ‘ODE ON A GRECIAN URN’ John Keats’s “Ode on a Grecian Urn” is a poem that rests largely on the author’s powerful imagination, and therefore his extensive use of imagery is one of the most attractive elements of the poem. Keats seems to be fascinated with the mystery of art and views beauty and love as a pure and unchanging form. The poem contains many references to physical things. A casual reader might accept these at face value, but Keats modifies the traditional understanding of physical objects and uses them not as tangible articles but instead as metaphors for and connections to abstract concepts, such as truth and eternity. This essay analyzes the text and

searches for connections between the abstract and the tangible, and shows how in actuality physical things are perfect metaphors for abstract things. I shall explore this connection through each stanza of the poem, Keats use of imagery, his possible reasons for writing this poem and the possible outlooks concerning the final and most ambiguous fifth stanza. The poem starts with an introduction of the Grecian urn. The urn, passed down from centuries, exists outside of chronology – it does not age or die. This creates a paradox for the human figures carved on it; they are free of time, but are simultaneously frozen in time. The Grecian urn is more than just a piece of pottery that Keats values because it has in some way defeated time and because it will never cease depicting

youth and joviality; Keats values this urn because of the message it conveys – that beautiful things are the embodiment of truth, “Beauty is truth, truth beauty – that is all” (Line 49). The urn is described as a bride, a foster-child, and a historian. All these personifications are subtle links to the abstract actions related to those roles, which Keats assigns to the urn. He reinforces these links with observations of what is painted on the urn. ” What men or Gods are these? What maidens loathe? / What mad pursuit? What struggles to escape? / What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy?” (Lines 8-10). He makes the statement that what is physically on the urn is a series of conceptual things, such as ‘ecstasy’, ‘escape’ and ‘pursuit’. The second stanza

opens with yet another junction of the physical and the abstract. (Lines 11 and 12), “Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard /Are sweeter”, is a clever example of the above statement. The ‘unheard melodies’ is an abstract concept, which is tied in with the more concrete ‘heard melodies’. The ‘unheard melodies’ are pleasant because they are created by the reader’s imagination for our own fulfillment. Keats then goes on to address the figures on the urn directly. “Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave/ Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare; / Bold lover, never, never canst thou kiss,” (Lines 15-17); he is connecting the abstract actions of those painted on the urn with the urn itself. The end of the second stanza demonstrates how

eternal the events depicted with the figures are; the unknown artist has depicted the sorrowful lover and his beloved inches apart, and therefore he will never be able to kiss her. They are both frozen in time and therefore her beauty will never fade and neither will his love. The emotions of the figures are eternal, but they could not exist without the urn, which encase them. The theme of unchanging love is present too in the third stanza. Keats goes on to connect the abstract with the physical by connecting the abstract actions on the urn with the physical urn itself when he talks about how fortunate the urn is, that it will never experience old age, and weariness. “Forever warm and still to be enjoyed, / Forever panting, and forever young; .. / A burning forehead, and a