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Discuss The Use Of Poetic Form And Language And Its Effects In 'ode On A Grecian Urn'

1533 words - 6 pages

The urn is portrayed, in elevated language as a dignified and silent form, suitable for this horation ode comprised. It is written in iambic pentameter which lends the piece a familiar, flowing rhythm. The tone is both musing and meditative. The poem is an apostrophe as the speaker addresses the object directly, but the word 'urn' is only used in the title. The effect of this is to focus the reader's attention on what is represented rather than the physical form. The rhyme scheme is a formal ABAB CDE for the first seven lines of each stanza, however the remaining three lines seem to break from this formability as the scenes depicted on the urn break from the pure lines of the object.The first line introduces the metaphor of the urn as a 'still unravish'd bride'. (1.1) There is a dual meaning to the word 'still' which can refer to both time and lack of motion. There is the interesting paradox of married yet virginal. The metaphor changes in the second line to a 'foster child'. (1.2) The urn is both wedded to and adopted by time and silence. It is described as a 'sylvan historian', a recorder of history, stressing its link with the past. It is through the questioning of the urn that the reader learns of the images that have captivated the speaker to the extent that he describes them as superior to his poem. He appears unsure as to whether the figures on the vase are Gods or mortals, which again emphasizes the beauty of the figures. The use of alliteration in 'silent and slow time' and 'leaf-fring'd legend' add to the harmonious tone and contrasts with the discord of the next lines. The word are of two syllables or less and the use of seven consecutive questions adds pace to the poem. From the 'silence' and 'quietness' the poem moves to 'mad pursuit' and the 'pipes and timbrals' (1.10); from the 'unravish'd bride' to 'wild ecstasy'. There is a tranquillity and purity to the urn which is belied by the passionate sexual chase depicted.The second stanza adopts a gentle tone once more. The speaker is looking into the figures, attempting to engage more fully with them through his imagination and this becomes most apparent when he addresses himself to a figure within the scene. The first three lines of the second stanza contrast the real world with the ideal, yet unreal scene on the urn. Initially here the speakers preference appears to be for the scene. The enjambement at the end of line eleven draws the reader's thoughts and encourages them to consider the apparent oxymoron of unheard melodies. The 'sensual' (2.13) world appears to be initially rejected in favour of that 'more endear'd'. However in the following three lines the speaker acknowledges the drawbacks of being thus frozen in time. The language is negative and there is the repetition of the word never, emphasising the continuation of this state. There is the paradox of the 'Bold lover' (2.17) who is destined never to have his 'bliss'. (2.19) There is no fulfilment of desire. The speaker goes...

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