Ode to a Grecian Urn by John Keats

Here, Tomasina, a friend of Beauty and the Beastly Truth, describes the poem by John Keats Ode to a Grecian Urn.

 

The main theme of this poem is that a beautiful work of art brings comfort and joy to the people who look at it or purchase it for their homes. 

 

The poet looks at a picture on the urn that shows a pagan springtime festival with musicians playing beautiful music and young lovers ready to kiss.    As he looks at the scene he becomes very happy because the picture brings home to him the truth about nature - there will always be springtime, leaves will always be on the trees, there will always be young lovers, and musicians will always play beautiful music.

 

But then this mood changes as he realises this is a fantasy - and in place of the beautiful ideas, ugliness dominates his thoughts. The poet realises that when the happy people went to the springtime festival they left behind the sick people and left their town empty and desolate.  He reflects on the ugly truth of young love becoming sorrowful and unfulfilled - and the people in the picture will not always be young but will suffer ugliness in the form of old age leading to sickness and death.  In the autumn the once green leaves of summer will turn to an ugly brown and die leaving stark trees.  He thinks about the suffering caused by a cold winter in which everything in nature freezes. 

                                                                                               

But then this mood changes once more to happiness as the poet realises the truth that even when he and the people of his generation are gone, the beautiful urn will remain and will continue bring comfort and joy to future generations.

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