The Power of Words - A Fishy Situation

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"The words in the poem, in other words--in Keats's words--"tease" us, as the girl teases her "forever painting" lover, constantly holding out the bait of an object that is constituted by the failure of our efforts to reach it" (Guetti 389).

Words and there meaning always seem to equal a different definition.

So class, why does Keats use an urn in his poem? We may never know this because it is author intent, but we can support our opinions with evidence of one particular viewpoint. Does the urn bring happiness or sadness to him or society?

The quote that I chose has great meaning and really, I mean it, really, relates to us. We do not know how or why he chose to use an urn, but we have our opinion about it. The urn is like the bait that usually fails, but, just but, we may once or twice get the idea. Okay, so think about fishing and how the bait attracts fish, but do you always get a fish? The answer is no because it takes time and knowledge to get that fish just as we would get the meaning of an object.

I will leave this blog entry shorter than normal because I want you to ponder over why an object in a poem is so different, if at all, than trying to catch a fish? We may never know if the bait will work, but we must have failure, at first, in order to capture the meaning of fish in the end.

Click here for the web page devoted to Guetti.

1 Comment

Derek, you bring up an interesting point. However, I don’t think Keats’ choice of an urn necessarily matters. As Guetti points out in her article, “What it [the urn] offers us does not even ‘belong,’ properly, to the Greeks or to any particular culture: the same poem could have been written about any human artifact whose historical identity has been erased, so that we could no longer know the answer to the questions Keats keeps asking about it” (390). It’s not so much about the urn being an urn, but about what the urn can represent.

The urn creates a “teasing” of us humans today, who will never know what the real story is about on the urn. We can wonder all we like and make up our own readings for it, but we’ll just never know for sure. It will always be a mystery and it’s this mystery that while tantalizing us with unknowability attracts us to it.

Relating it to your idea of bait, I see it more as someone putting a freshly baked cookie at the end of a string and dangling it in front of your face. As soon as you try to grab it, they jerk it out of reach. You can smell the freshly baked cookie and you can feel your stomach growling, but again and again despite your many tries to obtain the cookie, it is still snatched away from you. This is the way the story on the urn is. We try to discover the “truth” presented on the urn, but as soon as we get close to this “truth” it is grabbed away from us. But even though it is repeatedly snatched away, we keep trying because we’re still hungry and can still smell it.

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This page contains a single entry by Derek Tickle published on April 11, 2009 6:40 PM.

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