The Human Struggle between Earth and the after Life


"The world of the Urn itself is a symbol of eternity" (Austin 51).

After reading Austin's view of "Keats's Grecian Urn Ode" I began to think of how a human's perception of art offers a similar view. For example, when you or I look at a piece of artwork we think how beautiful or complicated it is. Seem right so far? Well, that piece of artwork, through many people's eyes or hand's (painting), can be an escape route from their daily stress. Another example would include going to church on Sunday. Many people, including myself, believe in a higher God, but our reasoning is that we will live in eternity.

The Urn, that Austin refers to, will be in the world forever unless it is destroyed or tampered with by a human. It will live for eternity - symbolically speaking.

Keats's poem is very interesting, but Austin stated that Keat's wrote a letter before his death. This letter offers fear and not knowing what the future holds. It seems that he can not determine whether events are a dream or reality. This holds true in his poem and in reference to the Urn. Keat's is viewing the Urn as an eternal symbol, but he does not know if its beauty is a dream or eternity.

I will leave you with a few questions about this intriguing analysis from Austin.

Do you believe that the Urn is a symbol of eternity or does it offer humans a symbol of beauty?

In addition, does a piece of artwork create a realm between the artist and his or her view of eternity?

This questions are very mind-boggling, but they offer a view that Austin may be trying to resolve about Keats's Grecian Urn.

Course web page devoted to Austin: Click here


Interesting Derek. To address your first question, I believe that the urn is a symbol of eternity. As you pointed out, it will be around forever, unless broken. The characters on the urn represent eternal life. Death is something that never comes, even to the cow being offered as a sacrifice. Keats' poem gives us all hope that the afterlife will be fun and pain-free like the lives of these people. I feel that Keats depicts eternity as he sees it, forever young and beautiful because these are two things that he values the highest. To read more on my feelings about the topic of Keats' poem and eternity, read my blog.

You bring up some thought-provoking questions Derek. There are so many possible meanings of this poem. As for what the Urn itself symbolizes, and whether it symbolizes eternity or not, I think it probably does. Or at least it symbolizes the potential for eternity. I think you bring up two points which could be significant. First, that the Urn could be broken and destroyed and second, that in some of his letters Keats seemed to be having doubts about the afterlife. He wanted to believe that there was something more after death, but he wasn’t as sure as he got older and neared death himself. Well, if we combine these two ideas, perhaps the Urn represents Keats’s hope in an eternity, yet at the same time by making this eternity a breakable object he is hinting that his belief in this eternity is shaky at this point in time. Really, the Urn could be so many different things; at some level, I kind of think all that matters is what the Urn means to each of us. As Eagleton opined, “All literary works, in other words, are ‘rewritten’, if only unconsciously, by the societies which read them; indeed there is no reading of a work which is not also a ‘re-writing’” (11). So maybe we are just re-writing Keats’s poem so that the Urn is what we want and need it to be.

In addition, does a piece of artwork create a realm between the artist and his or her view of eternity?
I think everything we create is a vision of something as we wish it were, whether we are creating a new image or changing an old image. Art has a way of representing the intimate thoughts in one’s mind. Obviously Keats saw a piece of art and interpreted it in his way, but I really wonder what the original artist was trying to create?

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This page contains a single entry by Derek Tickle published on January 24, 2009 4:15 PM.

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