ODE ON A GRECIAN URN
by: John Keats (1795-1821)
- HOU 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,
- Forever 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,
- Forever piping songs forever new;
- More happy love! more happy, happy love!
- Forever warm and still to be enjoy'd,
- Forever panting, and forever 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 seashore,
- Or mountain-built with peaceful citadel,
- Is emptied of this folk, this pious morn?
- And, little town, thy streets forever more
- 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.
POEMS BY JOHN KEATS
'Ode on a Grecian Urn' is reprinted
from English Poems. Ed. Edward Chauncey Baldwin. New York:
American Book Company, 1908.