The poet in an askance note begins to question what they are and what their reality is. The poet continues to ask –
What men gods are these? What maidens loth? What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape? What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy?
On the basis of these questions, the poet begins to explain the significance of those things engraved on the urn and gives a sharp contrast between these things and the reality of life.
Once again, in the short span of our life, we have sorrows and leaden-eyed despair. Here men sit and hear each other groan. In the dreary intercourse if daily life man gets nothing but the weariness, the fever and fret. This fever of this world hangs upon the beating of man’s heart.
But the world of art is above this fever and fret of this world. Here beauty is permanence and she always keeps her luster. Everything is fair in the world of art. The fact behind this is that art absorbs Time as if art grows with the time: -
“Thou foster-child of silence and slow-time”.
The bold lover would always remain young and the lady-love would ever be charming and fair. Because they have not consumpted love. The fulfillment of love is sign of decay. So, the poet says:-
“She can not fade, though than thou hast not thy bliss
For ever wilt thou love, she be fair. ”
Again, the fever of the world has no hand to touch the artistic beauty of the urn. The world of art is far above “all breathing human passion” and there is no “burning fore head” and “parching tongue” in the world of art.: -
“All breathing human passion far above,
That leaves a heart high sorrowful and cloyed.
A burning fore head and a parching tongue”
Hence, everything in the world of art is ever new, ever warm. There is no change in the world of art.
The poet while explaining the function of art and its relation to life, introduces the supreme function of art, - its power of evoking imagination. To an artist, a work of art evokes – imagination, and it haunts him with an unquenchable thirst to give birth a fragment of immense idea ,of what, human brain can conceive into reality.
“Heard melodies are sweet but those unheard
The music of the piper engraved on the urn, widens the scope of our imagination. In fact, it throws us into an incessant channel of creativity. Thus, when imagination
cast on an art , finds a concrete shape, the beauty gets translated into reality .And such reality derived from art is eternal source of affection. The Urn herself unlocks this mystery to the poet ,-the artist : “Beauty is truth, truth is beauty”
The worth of art to an artist is that, art evokes imagination. And imagination transcends the artist to the world of beauty. And again when the artist becomes one with beauty, he realizes what truth is:
“As imagination seizes, beauty must be truth.”
Therefore we may conclude that art is an exhibition of idea through an image which evokes imagination and it rests on the concept of eternity. It remains unaffected by the claws of Time, where life is affected and gets deprecated. Thus, Keats very impeccably shows the mortality of life and the immortality of art in his Ode
On a Grecian Urn.
Subrata Ray .Uluberia .Mousumipara .West Bengal .India .
The poetic career of John Keats spanned only about five years, but in this brief period, he produced a small cache of literary gold. Keats was among the most romantic of the Romantics; like Wordsworth and Coleridge, he sought to skip backward over the Augustans to reconnect with earlier poetry. Unlike Wordsworth, however, Keats’s poetic diction and themes are closer to what one finds in Edmund Spenser and John Milton, rather than a “man speaking to men.” His poem “La Belle Dame sans Merci” is both beautiful and mysterious. It asks questions about the relationship of love to self-destruction but leaves us with no definitive answers. With Keats, perhaps the only certainty is that beauty exists in the world: “‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty,’—that is all / Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”
In “La Belle Dame sans Merci,” by Keats.The poem was composed in 1818, conceived in appropriately romantic circumstances in a Devon coastal town, Teignmouth, an area that contains some of the most beautiful landscapes in Britain. It was also a landscape alive with medieval associations. Legend has it that “La Belle Dame,” a poem that centers on what seems to be an after-death experience, was the last major poem by the 23-year-old Keats, who was already terminally ill with tuberculosis at the time of its composition.
When he wrote this ballad, Keats was the age of an average graduating college student, but he had already compiled a body of work that would secure his place in the canon of English literature. According to Keats, knowledge of imminent death heightened his senses to an almost unbearable level that gave him a poignant awareness of the simultaneous beauty and transience of the world.
“La Belle Dame sans Merci” opens, ballad style, with an anonymous poet who has been miraculously transported back to medieval England. The poet meets a disoriented knight who has become enthralled with the belle dame and lost any sense of his quest. The poem is beautiful, but what does it mean? Should we even ask that question? Why not let the poem, with all its mysterious suggestiveness, remain like a melody in our heads? Why need it mean anything at all? Clearly, the action described by the forlorn knight in the poem combines two of Keats’s great themes: death and beauty. The poem is also clearly erotic. The belle dame is, literally, a femme fatale, a deadly woman. Is Keats meditating on his own love life, which we know to have been happy? The poem was written in homage to Spenser, in a consciously and anachronistically archaic style.
In One of his greatest poems, “On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer,” records the experience of discovering for himself the classics of literature.
In “Ode to Autumn,” the essence is spontaneity. Such a poem is written to catch the glints of the rainbow as it fleets by. An ode interacts with the moment in ways that other poetic forms don’t. In Keats’ s ode, we get an overpowering sense of something supremely rich coming to an end. The autumnal reaper is not just a symbol of harvest but of death, as well. Keats died in Italy at the age of 25, his last days recorded by a friend. He once said, “ I would soone fail than not be among the greatest,” and we can say that he most certainly achieved that goal.