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Three Claims Of A Grecian Urn

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Three Claims of a Grecian Urn

John Keats makes three claims at the end of his poem, “Ode on a Grecian Urn.” Who is the speaker of these claims of intellect? Is it the urn, or is it the speaker of the poem. That seems to be the real question at hand. The first claim of being “a friend to man,” seems to be related to the urn (48). By being a friend to man, the speaker refers to the urn being able to withstand the aging elements of time so that the urn will always be available for all mankind to reflect upon. By being this kind of friend, the urn will last through eternity and through generations to “tease us out of thought” (44). We can then reflect images captured in time within the urn’s beauty. If the speaker of the poem is trying to be the friend to man, it just doesn’t make sense. The speaker is physically unable to pass through generations and “remain, in midst of other woe” (47).
The idea that the urn will eternally live on through generations leads us into the next claim. I believe that the urn, not the speaker, is uttering this claim to the reader as well. The urn now knows of its eternal duty to be a friend to man, therefore, it is his duty to claim the one thing that it feels most important in life. That is the claim that “Beauty is truth, truth beauty,” (49). The urn truly feels that this is the most important piece of information that it can give to man in the small time that man might possibly look at the urn and reflect upon its images. If the speaker in the poem were saying these words to the urn, then the urn would be transformed into merely a beautiful, but simple piece of pottery. I don’t believe that this is what Keats is trying to accomplish. If we look at what Keats believed in the concept of negative capability, we would understand the concept of trying to lose one’s self momentarily in the event. In other words, Keats would try to immerse himself entirely into the ...

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