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In "Ode on a Grecian Urn" what does the speaker seem to admire most about the urn? 

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gordis05 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 3, 2009 at 1:33 PM via web

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In "Ode on a Grecian Urn" what does the speaker seem to admire most about the urn? 

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Noelle Thompson | High School Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted August 3, 2009 at 2:33 PM (Answer #1)

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In my opinion, the speaker of "Ode on a Grecian Urn" admires the immortality of the urn's subjects (and of the urn itself) even more than its beauty.  With the same idea that a poem can make its subject eternal, this beautiful Grecian urn has the same ability for its subjects to live eternally as well.  For example, in a few of my absolute favorite lines from literature, the speaker comments on two lovers depicted on the side of the urn:

Bold Lover, never, never canst thou kiss, / Though winning near the goal--yet, do not grieve; / She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss, / Forever wilt thou love, and she be fair! (17-20)

In one of the rare uses of the exclamation point in English Literature, Keats shows that these lovers will always be both beautiful and in love.  Their love achieves immortality.  Further, the speaker hints that a love and a fair maiden cannot remain in that state for all time in real time.

There are other examples of this as well.  The speaker mentions that the leaves of the trees will always be budding in spring and that the passion of the lovers will always be new.  The speaker clinches his thought at the end when he says:

When old age shall this generation waste, / Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe / Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say'st, / "Beauty is truth, truth beauty,"--that is all / Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know. (46-50)

Ah, now Keats reveals the secret of life:  that beauty is truth.  It is the immortal beauty this urn holds that reveals the truth of this life; therefore, cling to beauty such as this because that is all you need to know.

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subrataray | High School Teacher | Valedictorian

Posted March 20, 2010 at 2:15 AM (Answer #2)

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Keats admires the beauty of the urn .Beauty always remains in time less state .It is an image of the ultimate reality amidst the passing reality .The beauty of the Urn signals the cessation of Time's tyranny .Time as it were bears the beauty and it gets absorbed in beauty .

The urn seems to me an eternal -youthful -mother  , who keeps her inmates within her mysterious lap , and invites time to grow with them .The human artists are designated to give shape a part of the Universal beauty .The urn stands on the boarder line between the the invisible and the visible .To a lease- bound human being it is an object of imagination . The Urn's true relation remains to an artist .To him it reveals the secret .And the secret is the realization of truth in beauty .

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