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Ode on a Grecian Urn

Ode on a Grecian Urn

by John Keats

Art and Culture Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #4

O Attic shape! fair attitude! with brede
Of marble men and maidens overwrought, (lines 41-42)

He gives the urn a backhanded compliment, praise it’s shape and beautiful posture ("fair attitude") but then adding that the carving of the men and maidens smacks of too much effort. Are there places where this poem, too, seems "overwrought"? Do you think this is intentional?

Quote #5

Cold Pastoral!(line 45)

This is almost like a paradox, because "pastoral" poetry usually concerns sunshine, warm-blooded maidens, and hard-working shepherds. "Cold" is not a word a poet would normally attach to "pastoral." The urn is starting to seem remote and indifferent to the speaker.

Quote #6

'Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.' (lines 49-50)

If you’re a poet, or any kind of artist, you have to love this last claim. You can say to philosophers, "See? You thought you guys had a monopoly on truth, but it turns out to be me, after all!" Then again, it’s far from an uncontroversial statement, and many critics have attacked it harshly. Also, "beauty" is a very vague term. Do you think it necessarily refers to art, and, if that’s the case, how do we define "art"?

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