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Do you find any Greek elements in "Ode to Autumn" by John Keats?

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tapusss | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 2) Honors

Posted August 26, 2012 at 2:19 AM via web

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Do you find any Greek elements in "Ode to Autumn" by John Keats?

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iklan100 | College Teacher | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted August 26, 2012 at 5:26 AM (Answer #1)

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The poet Shelley once called John Keats a 'Greek'--of course, the Englishman Keats wasnt a Greek in the usual sense but in the sense of being influenced by Greek mythology, literature and culture, and using 'Grecian' (or 'Hellenistic') elements in many of his poems, his works, during his short and tragic life. 

Most critics and scholars tend to divide and label writers into simple categories such as 'Romantics' or 'Classicists' etc; but in fact there are no simple categories and labels, and a writer/poet deemed a 'Romantic' (such as Keats) can easily have elements of Classicism in his writings, due to his fondness for Greek culture and history and myhtology etc.  Thus, we note that Keats is full of Grecian references, allusions, and direct and indirect influences. Some poems such as 'Ode to a Grecian Urn' or 'Hyperion ' or 'Endymion' have a more open and obvious Greek content while others such as 'Ode to Autumn' also have less noticeable and subtle Greek elements. These are:

1. Personification -- like the ancient Greeks, Keats also elevates and personifies nature and natural phenomena, elements etc -- in this case the season of autumn which is pesonified in human shape, sometimes as a gleaner or a reaper etc. In Greek myth and literature we also see gods and demi-gods and natural forces thus personified in human form or shape/s.

2. Symbolism -- at some places, Keats gives some symbols that are allusions (indirect references) to ancient Greek deities or figures such as Ceres/Demeter the godess, or Pan the demi-god of the wilds and so on-- if we take hold of a good volume of Greek mythology such as Bullfinch's, we can identify a number of such indirect allusions.

3. Search for Truth in Beauty-- for Keats, 'Beauty' was 'Truth'-- very much like the ancient Greeks who searched for and found many truths and ideas and concepts of philosophic nature, in different types of beauty, including th beauty of the seasons and natural environment surrounding them. In the same way, in this ode, Keats finds much that is beautiful, mellow, rich and splendid in the shades and colors of autumn-- and he also dwells on many universal and truthful thoughts and ideas on perceiving this beauty.

I'm quite certain that you could also find other elements of a 'Grecian' nature in your readings of the text of this lovely poem. I also hope that the links below are of some help.

Sources:

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