artistic illustration of a Grecian urn set against a backdrop of hills and columns

Ode on a Grecian Urn

by John Keats

Start Free Trial

What characteristics of "Ode on a Grecian Urn" identify it as a Romantic era poem by a Romantic poet?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

A movement that emphasized emotion and intuition and the importance of the individual experience, Romanticism validated strong emotion as an aesthetic source of experience and knowledge. Certainly, John Keats's "Ode to a Grecian Urn" evinces many characteristics of a Romantic poem.

  • Emphasis upon the dream, or inner world of the individual

The poet's observations of the Grecian urn elicits high emotion from him as he "listens" to "unheard melodies" that are "sweeter" of "Forever piping songs forever new/More happpy love!...."

  • Valuing of intuition and emotion

The poet reaches beyond the rational and arrives at knowledge through feelings. The timeless perfection of the urn touches the aesthetic appreciation of the poet:

  • Validation of strong emotion as a source of aesthetic experience

Ah, happy happy boughs! that cannot shed

Your leaves, nor ever bid the Spring adieu:

And, happy melodist, unwearied

Forever piping songs forever new

  • A reach beyond the rational

There is a mysticism to the poet's contemplation of the urn as in his imagination the figures exist in an aesthetic eternity, expressing the truth of an ideal in a sententious statement:

"Beauty is truth, truth beauty,"--that is all

Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial