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How John Keats Writes a Poem: A Line-by-Line Breakdown of “Ode on a Grecian Urn”


The Greek time period ekphrasis sounds relatively unique if you happen to seldom come throughout it, however it refers to an act during which we’ve all engaged at one time or one other: that’s, describing a murals. The perfect ekphrases make that description as vivid as attainable, to the purpose the place it turns into a murals in itself. The English language affords no better-known instance of ekphrastic poetry than John Keats’ “Ode on a Grecian Urn,” from 1819, which pulls off the neat trick of taking each its topic and its style from the identical historic tradition — amongst different virtues, in fact, a number of of that are defined by Evan Puschak, higher generally known as the Nerdwriter, in his new video above, “How John Keats Writes a Poem.”

Puschak calls “Ode on a Grecian Urn” “arguably the most effective poem from arguably the most effective romantic poet,” then launches right into a line-by-line exegesis, figuring out the methods Keats employs in its development. “The speaker craves the best, eternal love depicted on and symbolized by the urn,” he says. “However the best way he expresses himself — effectively, it’s virtually embarrassing, even hysterical, feverish.”

Keats makes use of compulsive-sounding repetition of phrases like comfortable and eternally to “talk one thing concerning the speaker that runs counter to his phrases. It jogs my memory of these instances while you hear somebody insist on how comfortable they’re, however they’re simply attempting to will that truth into existence by talking it.”

In the middle of the poem, “the speaker begins to doubt his personal cravings for the permanence of artwork. Is it actually as good as he imagines?” All through, “he’s regarded to the urn, to artwork, to assuage his despair about life,” a job to which it lastly proves not fairly equal. “In life, issues change and fade, however they’re actual. In artwork, issues could also be everlasting, however they’re lifeless.” The well-known last traces of “Ode on a Grecian Urn” arrive on the conclusion that “magnificence is fact, fact magnificence,” and the way literal an interpretation to grant it stays a matter of debate. It might probably not be all we all know on Earth, nor even all we have to know, however the truth that we’re nonetheless arguing about it two centuries later speaks to the ability of artwork — in addition to artwork about artwork.

Associated content material:

Hear Benedict Cumberbatch Learn John Keats’ “Ode to a Nightingale” and Different Nice Works by Shakespeare, Dante & Coleridge

Watch Artwork on Historic Greek Vases Come to Life with Twenty first Century Animation

F. Scott Fitzgerald Reads Shakespeare’s Othello and Keats’ “Ode to a Nightingale” (1940)

Be taught to Write Via a Video Recreation Impressed by the Romantic Poets: Shelley, Byron, Keats

How Historic Greek Statues Actually Regarded: Analysis Reveals Their Daring, Vibrant Colours and Patterns

Based mostly in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and tradition. His initiatives embrace the Substack publication Books on Cities, the e book The Stateless Metropolis: a Stroll by Twenty first-Century Los Angeles and the video sequence The Metropolis in Cinema. Comply with him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Fb.



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