Three Poems Formalists Love “Ode on a Grecian Urn,” “The Second Coming,” and “Ozymandias” Keats’ “Ode on a Grecian Urn” p. 705 • In this poem, the author is addressing an Ode to a piece of painted Greek pottery. • Ok, so what’s an “ode”? An Ode, according to the Bedford glossary, is "A relatively long, serious, and usually meditative lyric poem that treats a noble or otherwise elevated subject in a dignified and calm manner." • Why is Keats talking to a piece of pottery? Apostrophe, or addressing a poem to an inanimate object, was a common practice, and a means by which the poet could reflect on some facet of the human experience. The Situation of “Ode on a Grecian Urn” • The poet contemplates the urn, probably in a museum, that has several different scenes painted on it. • One scene is of a young man about to kiss a young woman while musicians play nearby (There may also be a scene of one lone pipe player, depending on how you interpret certain lines.) • One scene is of a group of worshippers leading a cow to be sacrificed. Questions about “Ode on a Grecian Urn” • Think of a time when you have been to a museum and looked at something really old. What was it? What questions did you have about it? What was it like having a piece of history in front of you? This is the same situation Keats was recalling when he wrote the poem. • What questions does the urn inspire in Keats? • What answers or conclusions, if any, does he reach by the end of the poem? What do you make of those last two (much debated) lines? Yeats’ “The Second Coming” p. 734 This poem relies heavily on Christian imagery. The dominant image is of the second coming of Christ, a time that is supposed to usher in the end of the world and a new era of peace for the faithful in heaven. This poem radically upsets those expectations. • Notice the “twenty centuries” in line 19, roughly the amount of time between the birth of Christ and the writing of this poem. • Notice the beast slouching towards Bethlehem in line 22, the city in which Christ was born. “The Second Coming” p. 734 • In the first 8 lines, Yeats (pronounced “Yates”) describes what he sees as the state of the world, and it is an apocalyptic vision. (An apocalypse can mean either the End Times/Second Coming described in Revelation in the Bible, or it can mean the revealing of some secret knowledge that has been hidden. This poem is playing on both meanings.) • In the second stanza, he describes an image he says is from the “Spiritus Mundi,” which is like a collective human consciousness, of something that is coming. And it’s not pleasant. Introduction to Irony • Irony occurs when "a discrepancy exists between two levels of meaning and experience." – Dramatic irony: The reader knows something the characters don’t. – Situational Irony: The outcome of a situation drastically upsets readers’ expectations. – Verbal Irony: Saying one thing and meaning another. (Sarcasm is an example of this.) • The section on irony is on p. 499 of your textbook. "Ozymandias" by Percy Shelley p. 501 • A couple of difficult words before we start: – Trunkless: In this case, a body lacking a torso – Visage: Face • How does the author create irony here? What specific words does he use that make the poem particularly ironic? Be sure to tell me how the words you choose answer this question. • Why did Ozymandias (the guy who the statue is of) want people to "despair"? • Why might people still "despair" when they see the statue, but for different reasons?