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English 1022 Lecture on John Keats' "Ode Upon a Grecian Urn"

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English 1022E
David Bentley

english lecture (ode on a grecianovember 25, 2010 John Keats: Ode Upon a Grecian Urn On the Board: •Doctrine of Recollection •Platonic Forms/Ladder •Platonic Triad •Aestheticism •Undecidability •Indeterminacy •“Intentional fallacy” •Pastoral: Classical, Christian Classical Greece: Urn Makers>Urn>Keats>Ode>Reader :21st Century Canada ___ - There is a belief that we come with a knowledge of truths, but as we age we lose our memories of these truths. This idea that children have this knowledge of the world that adults don’t (In U.S.A there are lots of drawings portraying children with big, all seeing eyes to show this idea) - We looked at Wordsworths “Ode: Intimation of Immortality” p.1541. As time goes by the physical gives way to the metaphysical. Contentment replaces the glow, splendor and vision that a child has of the world. Children have some special insight which is lost to us as adults. - Platonic Forms and Platonic Ladder. Works in an upward movement. You get to love one particular poetic landscape; you then will remember the beauteous forms of that landscape and from that you build up an ideal landscape. This ladder takes you upwards to ideal forms which exists in a remote world that we can remember slightly. Building greater sense of abstraction we might call goodness. So that’s the doctrine of the ladder ascending towards these ideal abstractions - Platonic Triad: - There are these three special abstractions we should focus on in our life: goodness, truth and beauty. The ideal person has achieved a balance and understanding of these three things and appreciates how they fit together. Wordsworth and Keats is saturated in Platonism. Ode on a Grecian Urn (1819-1820) - Platonism became enormously influential in 19th century especially among people who placed supreme value on art and beauty, who saw beauty to be the supreme thing to strive for. Beauty is the supreme criterium for making judgements. If you regard english lecture (ode on a grecian urnovember 25, 2010 something as beautiful you regard it as worth protecting. You can fix the whole moral system on the defense of beauty. - It has taken good out of the triad. Beauty becomes truth, truth becomes beauty. You throw out morality and in the 19th century this idea of putting morality to one side had enormous appeal to : those who were in rebellion against middle class morality, those who viewed middle class values as restrictive, repressive. And the people who were repulsed by the ugliness they saw around them, the machinery/buildings/furniture and said it was hideous, this is losing beauty. They wanted to go back to classical ideas of beauty; not contaminated by christian morality. These people impose aestheticism (art for art’s sake) - Art shouldn’t be written for any reason other than for itself, to create a beautiful thing that can be enjoyed just for it’s beauty - Oscar Wilde tried to argue that art was above morality; that art was above morality; they took him to court and eventually he had to say that he was wrong. He died in France imprisoned. - Keats began this movement - It’s difficult to tell if the speaker admires the urn or has contempt towards it. Whether he admires that it stands for classical beauty, or whether he sees it as an artifact of no importance. Does the speaker look up to the urn as an ideal or down on it as meaningless/useless? - Maybe this poem is supposed to be so difficult to figure out - Ode ON a Grecian Urn: Yes it’s about a grecian urn, but it’s written ON paper. There is this gap opening up between the urn and the poem. You can write about the urn, but you can never meld that writing into the urn. - The urn is static, just sits there. A poem needs to be read, move in time to have any meaning. Contast between this static object and the fact that language has to move in time. Idea of getting congruency between the two is difficult, and the poem seems to acknowledge that from the beginning. - The urn is gender female, ‘unravish’d’ the animal is female too. - Keats admits that the poetry, however beautiful, however sweet, can never express the sweetness/beau
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