Allusion in Ode on a Grecian Urn
As is common in the poetry of John Keats, “Ode on a Grecian Urn” owes much of its subject matter to ancient Greek culture and mythology. The titular urn is an ancient Greek artifact whose surface the speaker studies carefully. The images painted onto the urn reflect scenes that are at once particular to Greek culture and yet reflective of broader human experiences. The romantic chase takes place in “Tempe or the dales of Arcady,” locations on the Greek peninsula, and yet the lover’s chase is a timeless part of human life. As Keats envisions it, the role of art is to identify what is timeless in a particular image, object, or scene. His use of allusion serves that very goal.