John Keats, a poet who attained extraordinary achievement for his short lifetime, was born the son of a London stableman. He grew up in relative poverty compared to many of the other poets of this time. Keats lived to be only 24 years old and his writing career lasted only five years. .
One of his most read ode's, is "Ode on a Grecian Urn". Keats does three things in this ode to attempt to convey his thoughts: he uses a series of paradoxes in the poem to contrast the differences between the mortal life portrayed in the art on the urn and the frozen permanence of the urn itself, he makes use of a narrator who speaks to the urn and asks questions of both the urn and of the reader to show the mystery of the urn's art, and he also makes use positive and negative wording of the language in this poem to show his underlying feelings on the subject of the poem. .
The first stanza begins by explaining the purpose of the urn. The urn is called a "still unravish"d bride of quietness" this beginning phrase holds two meanings. The word "still" can have meaning with regards to either time or motion. Also, the reference to the urn as a "foster child of silence and slow time" similarly shows that the urn is not affected by time in the way mortals are. .
Keats even refers to the urn as a "Sylvan historian" declaring that the urn can tell the story the people it's art represents even better than poetry could. In lines 8 through 10 the poet gets caught up in the details of the exciting chase scene depicted on the urn. These lines are important to the poem because of the turbulent and passionate scene that is paradoxically portrayed so convincingly on cold, immobile stone. .
In stanza two Keats imagines that there is music being played in the scene. He expresses that the idealized and imagined "unheard melodies" are sweeter than the heard melodies, asserting that the heard melodies can never be perfected. Similarly, in the following lines he speaks of how the trees will never lose their leaves and though the young lover will never be able to kiss the maiden, they should not be sad because she will always remain ideally beautiful and forever young.