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Tuesday Treasures: Keats' Sonnet to Wordsworth

Add to Wishlist. USD Buy Online, Pick up in Store is currently unavailable, but this item may be available for in-store purchase. Sign in to Purchase Instantly. Overview When John Keats and Benjamin Robert Haydon were introduced in late , the two men could hardly have been more different.

Analysis of the Poem "Ode on a Grecian Urn" by John Keats

Keats was a virtually unknown young apothecary who had a passion for poetry and a growing belief in his own abilities. Haydon was several years older and one of the most famous painters in London, a man who was certain that he was destined to create a new Renaissance in English art. Today, Haydon is almost forgotten but Keats is among the greatest poets in the English language.

How did this incredible reversal of fortune come about?

Colin Silver's book attempts to answer this question, and along the way we meet many of the characters who were central to the story of Haydon and Keats' relationship. Haydon was already famous when he met Keats but he had suffered some terrible trials and tribulations.

He was lonely and seeking a "kindred spirit", someone who had a "high calling" ostensibly a desire to achieve perfection in art, but also a desperate need for fame.

An introduction to 'Ode on a Grecian Urn': time, mortality and beauty - The British Library

Keats was that kindred spirit and Haydon took it upon himself to be his guide and mentor, to ensure that Keats' education as a poet paralleled Haydon's as an artist. William Hazlitt was a close friend of Haydon's who became a central figure in Keats' story. Hazlitt, the man whom the lawyer and diarist Henry Crabb Robinson described as "the cleverest man I know", was a published writer who had an ambition to be a painter, and as such he loved to spend time painting at his cottage in Winterslow near Salisbury.

Realising he could never make a living as an artist, he decided to give up painting and return to London where he gave a series of lectures on the English Poets.

Urns were used in ancient Greece to hold the ashes of the dead. Keats does not describe a specific urn in his ode, but he knew Greek art from engravings, and experienced it at first-hand on visits to the British Museum, which had recently taken possession of the Elgin Marbles. His friend the artist Benjamin Robert Haydon had taken him to see the marbles in March and Keats had responded with two sonnets, published in the Annals in April Usage terms Public Domain. Where are the places the urn depicts?

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Who are the people? What are the legends and passions it narrates? Between and he produced the best of his poetic creation: Hyperion, an unfinished epic poem retelling the myth of the war between the Greek gods and the Titans; La Belle Dame sans Merci; The Eve of St.

Most of his best poems appeared in in the greatest single volume of poetry which was to be published in the l9th century. But Keats did not write only verse. In the same period he wrote numerous letters, which contain precious information on his development as a poet and the working of his genius, and can be considered a remarkable spiritual autobiography.

Early in Keats coughed up blood and understood its meaning at once: "that drop of blood is my death warrant". He travelled to Italy in the hope of some alleviation with a warmer climate; he reached Rome after a rough journey which robbed him of the last of his waning strength, and remained there until his death three months later, on February 23, His remains were buried in the English cemetery in Rome.

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On his grave stone is carved the following self-written epitaph: "Here lies one whose name was writ in water". The ode describes an ancient Greek urn decorated with classical motifs: a Dionysian festival with music and ecstatic dances, a piper under the trees in a pastoral setting, a young man in love pursuing a girl and almost reaching her, a procession of townspeople and priest leading a cow to the sacrifice.

Keats is fascinated by the fact that art is able to present an ideal world because it can freeze actions and emotions: the lover depicted on the urn will never actually reach the girl he is following, the pipers will never end their song, the streets of the little town will always be deserted and silent.

The beauty of the girl, the ardent passion of her lover, the pleasure of music, the boughs in bloom will never fade. The greatest achievement of John Keats is represented by his great odes. Their themes are the themes that haunted the poet most: beauty, permanence and transience, art and life, imagination and reality.

The figures on the Greek urn are eternal; human activity has been frozen capturing and immortalizing moments of happiness but at a price: the loss of life itself. The young man will never kiss the maiden; the crown will never return to their little town.