Wednesday, March 16, 2011

John Keats'

Ode on a Grecian Urn

THOU still unravish'd bride of quietness,

  Thou foster-child of Silence and slow Time,

Sylvan historian, who canst thus express

  A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme:

What leaf-fringed legend haunts about thy shape
  Of deities or mortals, or of both,

    In Tempe or the dales of Arcady?

  What men or gods are these? What maidens loth?

What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape?

    What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy?

Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard

  Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on;

Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear'd,

  Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone:

Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave
  Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare;

    Bold Lover, never, never canst thou kiss,

Though winning near the goal—yet, do not grieve;

    She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss,

  For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair!

Ah, happy, happy boughs! that cannot shed

  Your leaves, nor ever bid the Spring adieu;

And, happy melodist, unwearièd,

  For ever piping songs for ever new;

More happy love! more happy, happy love!
  For ever warm and still to be enjoy'd,

    For ever panting, and for ever young;

All breathing human passion far above,

  That leaves a heart high-sorrowful and cloy'd,

    A burning forehead, and a parching tongue.

Who are these coming to the sacrifice?

  To what green altar, O mysterious priest,

Lead'st thou that heifer lowing at the skies,

  And all her silken flanks with garlands drest?

What little town by river or sea-shore,
  Or mountain-built with peaceful citadel,

    Is emptied of its folk, this pious morn?

And, little town, thy streets for evermore

  Will silent be; and not a soul, to tell

    Why thou art desolate, can e'er return.

O Attic shape! fair attitude! with brede

  Of marble men and maidens overwrought,

With forest branches and the trodden weed;

  Thou, silent form! dost tease us out of thought

As doth eternity: Cold Pastoral!
  When old age shall this generation waste,

    Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe

  Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say'st,

'Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all

    Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.'

1 comment:

  1. I think this is a very dense poem with many references to ancient Greek culture. John Keats incorperated a lot of references and history into this small poem. I believe this poem is about a person talking to an urn with many interesting pictures on it. The speaker in the poem describes the urn and what types of pictures are on it: " A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme: What leaf-fringed legend haunts about thy shape Of deities or mortals, or of both."

    In the second stanza, the speaker addresses another picture on the urn. This time, on a man playing on soft pipes(perhaps a flute?) and plays a song to his lover, "For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair!"

    I enjoyed this poem and it amazes me how such a young poet can have so much knowledge and talent for writing poems. It makes me wonder why there aren't many people in our modern society today who can write poems like these.