"Forever will thou love, and she be fair." Discuss the central theme of "Ode on a Grecian Urn" by John Keats with reference to this line.

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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"Ode on a Grecian Urn" by John Keats is actually a poem about the Parthenon frieze, which had been brought to England by Lord Elgin and was on display in the British Museum. 

The central theme of the poem is that the marble characters carved on the Parthenon frieze are forever caught in a single frozen moment of time. The procession will never reach the altar and the heifer will never be sacrificed. Although the sculpture captures movement and action, in fact, no action can ever take place because time is frozen.

The image of love which is never consummated and a beloved who never ages is an ideal Romantic vision of a perfection that can only occur in the world of art, which stands apart from the ever-changing and imperfect world of reality. This relates to the last line in the sense of evoking beauty and truth as eternal and identical, in a strongly Platonic vision.


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