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John Keats : Ode on a Grecian Urn

				I
Thou still unravished bride of quietness1,
	Thou foster-child of silence and slow time,
Sylvan2 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 Tempe3 or the dales of Arcady?4
	What men or gods are these? What maidens loth?
What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape?
		What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy?

				II
Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
	Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on;
Not to the sensual ear, but, more endeared,
	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 will thou love, and she be fair!

				III
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 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.

				IV
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 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.

				V
O Attic5 shape! Fair attitude! with brede6
	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 know7."

John Keats (1795-1821)	P. 1820

 
FOOTNOTES
1 the poem is said to have been inspired by a visit to the Elgin Marbles in the British Museum; 2 pertaining to the woods; 3 in Greece; 4 in Greece, but poetically, an ideal pastoral setting; 5 pertaining to ancient Athens; 6 embroidery; 7 some readings close the quotation marks after the first five words of the penultimate line
 

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