Ode on a Grecian Urn Questions and Answers
by John Keats

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How then can a "Cold Pastoral" be called a "friend to man" in the poem "Ode on a Grecian Urn"?

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Keats's poem "Ode on a Grecian Urn" addresses the titular urn directly and praises its unchanging nature. The urn—upon which images have been placed, conveying a pastoral scene from Ancient Greece—is important to us because it enables us to see something of how people once lived. Keats suggests that it does this better than modern poets are able to in their writing. It is "silent," in the sense that it does not change and it forces us, the viewers, to make our own deductions about the parts of the scene depicted which are not instantly clear to us. However, it is also straightforward and unchanging, which are praiseworthy qualities in it.

In the final stanza of the poem, Keats concludes memorably that "beauty is truth, truth beauty." He is saying that the beauty of the urn, the "cold pastoral," is part of its value—it represents a truth to the viewer, which will outlast "this generation." After those who are living today succumb to old age, the urn itself will continue to...

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