Poetry Friday: Ode to a Grecian Urn
May 12, 2006
Ode to a Grecian Urn -- 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-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, 35
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.'
The last two lines of this poem are the most famous. I just ran across them in Eoin Colfer's Half-Moon Investigations, and that reminded me of the poem. You can most likely find other Poetry Friday entries on these sites (all of which participated last week): A Fuse #8 Production; Big A little a; Blog From The Windowsill; Chicken Spaghetti; Farm School; Here In The Bonny Glen; Scholar's Blog; The Simple and the Ordinary.
UPDATE: Here are the actual links to people who submitted poetry this Friday:
- Kelly at Big A little a (originator of the rapidly expanding Poetry Friday tradition) has a Ted Hughes poem about cats.
- Liz from A Chair, A Fireplace and a Tea Cozy carries Thomas Hood's A Parental Ode to My Son
- Wendy from Blog from the Windowsill carries a Billy Collins poem in honor of Mother's Day.
- Anne at Book Buds reviews a poem/picture book about pirates. Personally, I can never hear of pirates without thinking "Yo ho, yo ho, a pirates life for me."
- Becky at Farm School has a poem about gardening and motherhood.
- Little Willow has some T.S. Eliot (The Old Grumbie Cat).
- Michele at Scholar's Blog has a poem by one of my favorites, Edward Lear. I agree with Michele that "Mr Lear's nonsense - it's good for the soul !"
- Susan Taylor Brown (author of the wonderful to-be-released verse novel Hugging the Rock) has an original poem.
- Christine at The Simple and the Ordinary has an homage to mothers.
- Susan at Chicken Spaghetti has a nod to Poetry Friday, though no actual poem this week.
- Jen at Jen's Page has an e. e. cummings poem. I love e. e. cummings, myself.
If I missed you, drop me a note, and I'll add you to the list. Cheers!