What evidence supports the idea that Keats is talking to a Grecian Urn in his poem? 

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reidalot's profile pic

reidalot | College Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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There is a great deal of evidence that supports Keats talking directly to the Urn. First of all, he begins with "Thou" directly addressing the Urn in line one and he repeats "thou" again in line two. Next, still in Stanza One,the poet asks questions of the Urn, as if he were holding a conversation with it, making an inanimate object appear alive: "In Tempe or the dales of Arcady?...What wild ecstasy?"

Interestingly enough, as the Ode progresses, the poet directly addresses the figures on the Urn. He tells the fair youth to "Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tune" in Stanza Two, and then directs his conversation to the Bold Lover. Keats continues in this vein in Stanza Three as he discusses the tree boughs and the permanence of youthful love as it is portrayed on the Urn.

Again, in Stanza Four, the poet once more asks questions of the Urn:"Who are these coming to the sacrifice?...and why is the citadel "...emptied of its folk, this pious morn?" Again, the rhetorical questions emphasize the conversation the poet holds with the Urn. Fair proof of Keats talking to the Urn!

amy-lepore's profile pic

amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Keats neatly sandwiches his stanzas between the first and last lines which both address the urn:  Thou still unravish'd bride of quietness,  and  O Attic shape! Fair attitude! with brede...Thou, silent form, dost tease us out of thought As doth eternity

The first stanza is an introduction, addressing the urn itself.  Who are these people and what are they doing on your sides? What can it mean for those of us just now laying eyes upong you?

The second stanza introduces the theme of imagination, but by addressing the musician on the urn.  The music we can all hear may not be liked by everyone, but the music we imagine will please us all simply because we imagine that which we like. 

The third stanza addresses the lover, the musician, the trees which will forever remain in love, young, playing without tiring, and full of green leaves for eternity.  There is nothing to worry about here in this stanza...no sunburn, parched tongue, or broken hearts.

The fourth stanza questions the priest leading the cow to sacrifice and the absent townspeople about where they are going and what they will do, which all leads to the question: What is the truth about all of this?  We can see and appreciate the beauty, as will many to come.  "Beauty is Truth, Truth Beauty,"—that is all Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

pmiranda2857's profile pic

pmiranda2857 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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In "Ode on a Grecian Urn," the poem speaks about an ancient urn painted with two scenes from Greek life. It references Apollo, the god of music and poetry along with his favorite places in Greece, Tempe and Arcady.

"Observing the figures painted on the urn's surface, the speaker cannot tell whether they are "deities or mortals," whether they exist in Apollo's valley of Tempe or the heaven-like but mortally inhabited region of Arcady."

'O Attic shape! Fair attitude! with brede
     Of marble men and maidens overwrought
With forest branches and the trodden weed;'

The Urn's origin is placed in Attica, another location in Greece. 

subrataray's profile pic

subrataray | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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There are a number of evidences that support Keats's talking to the Urn .The lines , "Thou ,silent form ,dost tease us out of thought" and "Thou shalt in midst of others woe" ,substantiate Keats's address to the Urn .Again the opening line ,-"Thou still..", cites the address .

subrataray's profile pic

subrataray | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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The evidence of Keats's addressing to the Urn ,connects us to  the opening line of the poem .The poet calls the Urn as "un ravished  bride of silence and slow-time" . Again the shape is attic ,-a Greek shape  .Urns in in the remotest Greek civilization were used to sculptor , engraved  pictures .

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