Keats Could Control Himself

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From Barbara Jones Guetti’s “Resisting the Aesthetic” in Keesey’s Contexts for Criticism:

“It is safer, and far “sweeter,” to imagine what the “flowery tale” depicted on the urn might have said…” (389).

Guetti creates a strange and interesting progression in her essay.  She begins by addressing the questions that she feels that so many critics have ignored.  She then moves on to saying that Keats shifts to story-telling.  Keat’s speaker undergoes a shift from curious wonder at the physical urn to doing what seemingly any Engish buff would and to do, creating a story for it (hence the alliterated title).  Guetti points out that this shift is indicated in the poem by the progression from questions to proclamations.  I never really noticed this before.  I really liked this essay because I feel that Guetti has a point and builds on it in a clear and logical way.

Do you agree that her argument is a good one?  Disagree?

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2 Comments

Greta Carroll said:

Angela, I liked Guetti’s argument. As I pointed out in my blog entry: http://blogs.setonhill.edu/GretaCarroll/2009/04/the_interesting_partwhats_miss.html
I really relate to what she is saying. It’s the same type of reason people like history in general or even the paranormal. It’s the mystery that shrouds these events. I’m a little bit of a geek when it comes to Tudor England (in other words things that relate to Henry VIII), but part of what makes it so interesting to me is the ambiguity of what really happened. I will never know whether Henry VIII’s second wife (Anne Boleyn) really committed the adultery she was condemned to death for. I will never know what she was thinking as she was led to the Tower. I can read about these events, but I have to remember that somebody created these histories and that these people came from some perspective. The most fascinating part is wondering about the parts of the story that we will never know. So Guetti’s claim plays right off of this idea.

Derek Tickle said:

What if, just what if, an object on an urn could talk? That is like saying what if cars could talk? Guetti brings up an interesting point as you notated in the quote that you chose.

I honestly did not think of the poem as a story being told by an author. It makes sense!

As Greta mentions in her comment, we will not know what something meant in the past nor will we know what someone of something would have said in a specific situation. What we do know is that the poem contains a paranormal atmosphere, as Greta mentioned, because we are left not knowing exactly what happened. Or do we?

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