Opposition Through Similarities in Keats Poetry

Topics: John Keats, Death, Emotion Pages: 4 (1637 words) Published: October 9, 2007
John Keats poems "Ode to a Nightingale" and "Ode on a Grecian Urn" seem to have been written with the intention of describing a moment in one's life, like that of the fleeting tune of a nightingale or a scene pictured on an urn. Within each of these moments a multitude of emotions are established, with each morphing from one to another very subtly. What is also more subtle about these two poems is their differences. While they do touch on very similar topics, the objects used to personify Keats' ideas on death and immortality differ and the ideas represented by them do diverge at different points in the poems as well. Keats' "Ode on a Grecian Urn" touches on the indefinable and puzzling relationship between art and life. Paradoxically, it's the representation of the urn, which would usually be associated with a characteristic melancholy, stillness, and grief caused by death, which is shown to be indicative of life. In "Ode to a Nightingale" a supposed happiness is being connected to the nightingale while its song contradicts the heavy weight of human sorrow and illness, and the transient quality of beauty and youth. This is clear in the line, "Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird" (line 61), the nightingale is not associated with mortal elements. The odes do seem similar in several ways because in both Keats does portray symbols of immortality and the avoidance of death, as well as the spectrum of emotions from grief to joy. However, the symbol of the nightingale is an object of nature found in reality while the urn is an object of fantasy, a work of art. Both these poems require differing senses to be able to understand them. By comparing and contrasting the aspects of each poem, it is clear that all the elements relate directly, but differently to human spirit and human emotions. The urn and the nightingale are staples of immortality. They are symbols representing the everlasting quality of nature and art respectively. In the "Ode to a...
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