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February 17, 2007

EL312: Ode on a Grammatical Nightmare

Kent's essay on the third stanza of Keats' "Ode on a Grecian Urn" is the kind of essay I would write (if I were to continue literary studies at a more in-depth level, I'm sure).

Like many classmates have expressed in previous weeks, I will allow myself one line of "I wish"ness: I wish I had read this before writing my last essay.

That said, I know it's probably of little use to anyone to know that I liked this essay quite a bit... but I did like it. I found myself just loving how Kent explained Keats' use of present participles and lack of independent clauses. Fascinating. (I don't expect anyone to agree with me, though.)

I also found some of Kent's rhetorical analysis to be quite interesting:

To pipe songs "for ever" would seem, logically, to deny that these songs could be "forever new" except in some almost grotesque fantasy of infinite creative fecundity. Here, then, is one of the idealist's perennial dilemmas: having to describe the ideal in terms of the real.

Somehow, that passage seems witty to me. Sure, poets take the notorious poetic license with words, grammar, and literary functions, but the way Kent describes it makes me wonder if Keats shouldn't have just picked up a copy of Strunk & White's The Elements of Style.

Kent examines Keats' grammar and rhetoric in such a way that I see more of the poem now than before. I've read this poem a lot (I don't know how many times), and I re-read it after reading Kent's essay. Surprisingly, I saw some things I hadn't seen before. (Hooray!)

Kent, ''On the Third Stanza of Keats's 'Ode on a Grecian Urn''' -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

Posted by KarissaKilgore at February 17, 2007 10:17 AM


I understand completely why this is the kind of essay you'd want to write. It makes sense! Kent doesn't kill you with lots of (arguably useless) information. Instead, he uses lots of examples straight from the text to describe his point, and then he backs out with a nice little conclusion that both proves its point, but still leaves the reader wanting to reread the poem (as you did) to see if he/she see what he sees.

I would LOVE reading more essays like this one--short and sweet, and highly accessible.

Posted by: Valerie Masciarelli at February 19, 2007 4:49 PM

Thank you for mentioning Strunk and White. Your title left me laughing for three solid minutes.

I loved this essay, as well, and I also saw the poem differently after reading the essay.

Posted by: Dave Moio at February 21, 2007 9:22 PM

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