Ode on a Grecian Urn

by John Keats


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-fring’d 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, unwearied,
     For ever piping songs for ever new ;
More happy love ! more happy, happy love !
     For every 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 those 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 this 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.
John Keats | Classic Poems
La Belle Dame Sans Merci ] Ode to a Nightingale ] [ Ode on a Grecian Urn ] Ode on Indolence ] Ode to Psyche ] Ode on Melancholy ] Ode to autumn ]





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