According to Karl Kroeber and Stuart M. Sperry, Keats languished in the gap between the "audience" he had achieved as a poet and the "community" he longed for. This, claims Kroeber, is the fate of all Western artists, who are doomed merely to report "dream material" to an audience of witnesses rather than to transfer a "vision" to a community that can enact it and derive social cohesion and "energy" from it. As I examine the structural underpinnings of Keats's ode, however, I find that it both enables and provides a location for a ritual transformation of the reader as an active participant. As readers of the ode, we are escorted through a rite of passage that has the shape of what anthropologist Victor Turner has called a "liminal" transition. According to Turner such "liminal" transitions, passages in which individuals suffer both disintegration and reintegration, are the means by which people are synthesized into a community. The "Ode on a Grecian Urn," then, stands apart from Kroeber's lament that western art can only serve to draw "energy" from an audience. The ode transfers visionary energy to a community of readers.
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