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Ode To A Grecian Urn Essay Research

Ode To A Grecian Urn Essay, Research Paper

Cold Pastoral Engraved on the surface of a Grecian urn are pastoral scenes, and through these scenes the urn communicates with us. The “foster-child of silence and slow time,” the urn has told its “flowery tale” before and it will tell it again. Like the urn’s marble form, the story is immutable. The pastoral world is a static one–love is in its pure, passionate, and unconsumated phase, tree and flowers are in perpetual bloom, the musician never tires, and the same old melody always seems fresh and new. The world to which the “leaf-ringed legends” of the urn are communicated, however, is not static. Seasons change, love mellows with time and the man who views the urn at one specific moment may die the next. This man, entrenched in the cycle of life, sees the pastoral world as frozen and eternal, like the cool marble of the artifact on which it is depicted. Though the pastoral world is comprised of the most joyous scenes of life, it is actually devoid of life because it never changes. Devoid of life–consider the scene of sacrifice in which all of the “normal people” have been evacuated to make room for the priest and other necessary players. One realizes in viewing this urn that compared to the motion and vitality of natural life, the pastoral world seems “cold.” However, Keats also views the urn as a kind of “friend,” for its images of pure beauty transcend time and force one to consider the finitude of ones condition. The urn will proclaim that “beauty is truth and truth beauty” now and long after the present viewer has been reduced to dust. The cold, harsh truth communicated by the urn is a great kindness because it forces one to remove the blinders of everyday life and realize that there are some values that transcend the human experience. In connecting with the “cold pastoral” communicated by the Grecian urn, one can appreciate the vitality of natural life but is also forced to consider how fleeting life is.

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