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What is "Ode on a Grecian Urn" all about?

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angels9286 | College Teacher | (Level 1) Honors

Posted April 19, 2011 at 8:52 PM via web

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What is "Ode on a Grecian Urn" all about?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted April 20, 2011 at 9:43 PM (Answer #1)

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In this excellent poem the speaker addresses a Grecian urn which has two different scenes painted on it These scenes cause the speaker to consider and meditate upon the nature of beauty and truth, and the way that this Grecian urn is a symbol of eternal art and beauty. As the poem draws to its conclusion, the speaker contemplates the significance of the urn for us as humans, saying that by meditating upon the urn it "teases us out of thought," thought being that which makes us aware of our own mortality and the cares of the world. However, contemplating the urn only does this briefly, and we are left with an overwhelming sense of the ephemeral nature of man. The Ode ends on a riddle as we are told that "Beauty is Truth, and Truth Beauty." Yet we are left confused if the speaker is actually celebrating the beauty and truth that is in the urn and that it symbolises, or whether the speaker is actually arguing that contemplating the urn should make us more determined to make the most of our brief lives and search for a truth that is beyond the cold remnant of a dead civilisation.

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