An ode? An ode can be defined as "a lyric poem characterized by lofty feeling and dignified style" (Guralnik 397). John Keats, a well-respected poet of the late 1700's, early 1800's is known for the Odes he has written. His poem titled Ode on a Grecian Urn, is one that is highly respected as it does evoke deep feelings from the reader and is written with a definite distinct style. Ode on a Grecian Urn encompasses some major themes, that of death and desire, where these two themes are presented in a self-reflexive manner. Death and desire can be treated as two separate entities in this poem but can also be interconnected.
The title itself, Ode on a Grecian Urn, simply incorporates some significant points that are relevant to the overall understanding of the idea of the self- reflexive. Keats has chosen the preposition "on" instead of "to" as a way of reflecting a connection between the narrator and the pictures the urn depicts. The preposition "on" leads to the idea that the poem is not strictly about the physical object of the urn itself but also the qualities the urn possesses and how they interplay with the narrator himself. This leads into the notion of the subjective and objective. This particular poem begins with the objective as the urn exists as a physical object independent from any thoughts, but as the poem continues, the objective leads to the subjective. As this poem is highly self-reflexive, it therefore includes the subjective in the sense that the narrator is including his own feelings and perceptions of how he interprets the pictures on the urn. In turn, objective and subjective work together in this poem and without one would lead to a different analysis. .
Throughout the poem there is a continual referral to a theme of death. Death in the sense of the urn itself, and how death interplays with the narrator. At the beginning of the poem we begin with the narrator examining this particular urn that has been left to "foster over time".