from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- n. A vase of varying size and shape, usually having a footed base or pedestal.
- n. A closed metal vessel having a spigot and used for warming or serving tea or coffee.
- n. Botany The spore-bearing part of a moss capsule.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. a vase with a footed base
- n. a metal vessel for serving tea or coffee
- n. a vessel for ashes or cremains of a deceased person
from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English
- n. A vessel of various forms, usually a vase furnished with a foot or pedestal, employed for different purposes, as for holding liquids, for ornamental uses, for preserving the ashes of the dead after cremation, and anciently for holding lots to be drawn.
- n. Fig.: Any place of burial; the grave.
- n. A measure of capacity for liquids, containing about three gallons and a haft, wine measure. It was haft the amphora, and four times the congius.
- n. A hollow body shaped like an urn, in which the spores of mosses are contained; a spore case; a theca.
- n. A tea urn. See under Tea.
- transitive v. To inclose in, or as in, an urn; to inurn.
from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- To inclose in an urn, or as in an urn; inurn.
- n. A kind of vase, usually rather large, having an oviform or rounded body with a foot; by extension (since the ashes of the dead were formerly put into such vessels), any receptacle for the dead body or its remains.
- n. A place of burial; a grave.
- n. A Roman measure for liquids, containing one half the amphora.
- n. A tea-urn.
- n. In botany, the hollow vessel in which the spores of mosses are produced; the sporogonium or spore-case; the theca. See cut under moss.
- n. In the Dicyemida, specifically, a cup-like part of the infusoriform embryo of a rhombogenous dicyemid, consisting of a capsule, a lid, and contents. See Dicyemida, and cut under Dicyema.
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
- n. a large vase that usually has a pedestal or feet
- n. a large pot for making coffee or tea
The focal point of the urn is a two-headed águila or eagle.
While the urn is an object among others, an artifact with its own material and cultural history, it does not address the viewer in the same way as an object in a shop window.
An exemplary teacher of Negative Capability (a concept one can hardly resist teaching in conjunction with this poem), the urn is also the incarnation of Art, of aesthetic value determined not by its social location but by its power to dissolve all such determinations.
But the trope can be dismissed as a "trivial goal" -- indeed, as a "goal" at all -- only if you assume that the urn is well-wrought because it successfully attains a level of "beauty" that conforms to pre-established formal requirements.
The urn is not an object; it is deformed in that it is only its illustrations, its meanings.
Or, as Jessica wrote after rearranging the poem so that all rhyming lines were together, "the thing [urn] is gone, and now there is a poem which is slowly growing incomprehensible"
The urn is not an urn at all, but a clue to an allegorical or narrative (usually biographical but sometimes more broadly historical) level.
If we are supposed to be those who hear the urn's message in the future "in midst of other woe" than the speaker's, how do we deal with the fact that our access to the urn is even more mediate than the speaker's, since it is filtered through his poem?
It invites repetition, remarking that an urn is shifted round more than once so that sights on it "return."
If the urn is thus the product of an aesthetic sleight of hand, it does not promise refuge from time except in our own power to project eternity onto it and then hear its message reflected back into our own historical present.