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Lecture 7

English 2307E - Lecture 7.docx

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Department
English
Course
English 2307E
Professor
Krista Lysack
Semester
Winter

Description
English 2307E Thursday February 6 Lecture 7 Keats – Ode on a Grecian Urn In-Class Essay • You should have them back after reading week • You will get the handout of topics for your final essay before the break Keats, ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’ • This was one of a series of odes written in praise of someone or something • Keats has a tendency to produce short, intimate, lyric poetry • In this case, the ode is about an object • There is still something unresolved by the end of the poem • The speaker wants to draw our attention to this ancient, decorated pot as some kind of excuse to draw a conclusion about beauty and truth 3 Scenes: • Courtship Dance (Stanza 1) o He is looking at a relic, not a contemporary pot o There is an image or revelry, sexual pursuit (a courtship dance) o The speaker talks to the urn, as if it were a historian that could tell a better story than a poem can o He uses 2 metaphors:  A still, unravished bride (a figure of innocence and beauty)  A foster child of silence and slow time (as though silence and slow time were helping the urn through the ages like foster parents, and preserving it) • There is a sense of everything being suspended in time o It is paradoxical – it depicts liveliness, yet remains suspended in time • A Romantic Pursuit (Stanzas 2 & 3) o There is a piper piping his music, and a man in pursuit of a young woman  A love scene set to music – however we can look at it all we want, but we can’t hear the music o Why does he say that something you can’t hear would be sweeter than music in time?  Music that’s never heard gets to keep all of its charm (there is potential, it is timeless) o The woman will always be beautiful and will not fade on the side of the urn o The speaker takes solace in suspended desire that is never realized  The lovers are poised on the moment of consummation, but their desires are never met  This suspended desire is what makes the woman so lovely o There is debate over whether there is violence suggested in the romantic pursuit, or whether it is a welcome pursuit o There is a lot of enthusiasm (‘happy’ is repeated) • A Pagan Sacrificial Ritual (Stanza 4) o Everybody has gone off to attend the ritual, leaving the town abandoned o Keats doesn’t focus on the revelry, but the abandoned town  He likes to deal with the absence of people (even as this exciting sacrifice is coming) o It is a contrast to the liveliness, the almost achievement of desire, and this silence • Cold Pastoral (Stanza 5) o On the one hand, he is complementing the urn, but is ambivalent about its effect on him o A pastoral goes back to Ancient literature that depicts a welcoming, bucolic, rural scene with harmony and music (pipers)
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