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 “Ode to a Grecian Urn” Discussion Questions 100 points

Questions must be answered using complete sentences.

Stanza 1
1. In the first stanza, why is the urn a “sylvan historian”?
2. What is the “flowery tale” the urn tells?
3. Identify two abstract concepts in this stanza
4. Which word embodies the concepts of time and motion?
5. What is described as “unravished” in this stanza?
6. Identify one allusion used in this stanza
Stanza 2
7. To what “unheard melodies” does the second stanza refer?
8. What is the paradox or oxymoron in the first four lines?
9. Write down six negative phrases in the last six line of this stanza.
10. Write down an example of alliteration in this stanza
11. Write down an example of consonance in this stanza
12. Write down an example of assonance in this stanza
Stanza 3
13. The third stanza refers to warmth and passion of two kinds, or on two levels.
What are they? What advantages do the lovers on the urn enjoy?
14. What is the irony of the “superior passion” depicted in this stanza
15. What idea is repeated in this stanza?
Stanza 4
16. What does the poet imagine in this stanza?
17. Summarize the action in the first 4 lines
18. Summarize the action in the rest of the stanza
19. In lines 38‐40, why do you think the speaker says that the little town will be
forever silent and desolate?
20. Looking at the overall sound structure of the stanzas, which sound is repeated
more than another? What is this an example of?
Stanza 5
21. What are the limitations of art as represented by the urn?
22. What literary device is apparent in line 42?
23. What is the effect the repetitive “m” sound in line 42
24. In the last line of the fourth stanza, who or what is desolate?
25. Write down an example of an allusion used in this stanza.
Extra Credit Discussion Questions
2‐50 points
1 page, typed, double spaced, 12 point font = 50 points. Each sentence= 2 points

1. Critics argue over the meaning of the poem's last two lines, with or without the
parentheses. How do you interpret them? What does it mean to identify truth and
beauty‐‐two realms that we generally insist upon keeping separate, just as we separate
ethics or morality from aesthetics or beauty?

2. In a sense, the speaker is playing "art critic" when he questions the urn about its
meaning. Does the personified urn's response validate this questioning? What does the
poem, and especially the final stanza as a whole, suggest about the status of attempts
to address the meaning of a work of art?

3. Contemporary critics usually insist on interpreting art in terms of its social and
historical context, with the understanding that context is always at least partly
constructed by the critic and not simply available as objective data. But how does
Keats' speaker suggest we ought to consider a work of art, if indeed you take the poem
as offering any insights about "context"?

4. Keats respectfully opposes Wordsworth's poetry of the "egotistical sublime." How

does the present poem offer an alternative focus for poetry?

5. What makes the speaker question the urn in the first stanza? What state of mind
does Keats' poem seem designed to bring about?

6. Why are the figures on the urn called a "leaf‐fringed legend"? [Look up the Latin verb
"lego" or the gerundive "legendum" in a lexicon.] What does such a word have to do
with the relationship between speaker and urn?

7. What paradox develops beginning with the second stanza and developing through
the rest of the poem? What does art give us? What does it withhold?

8. What subjects of address does the speaker draw from the urn? What do they have in
common? What don't they have in common‐‐in other words, does the speaker have to
address some subjects differently? Does the speaker put them into any working
relationship? Explain.

9. People have sometimes said that line 25 is not good poetry: "More happy love! more
happy, happy, happy love!" But consider the placement of the line in the poem as a
whole‐‐why might Keats have included such a line where he does, rendering it