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    Ode on a Grecian Urn

    by John Keats
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    Thou still unravished bride of quietness!
    Thou foster-child of silence and slow time,
    Sylvan historian, who canst thus express
    A flow'ry 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 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,
    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 ever warm and still to be enjoyed,
    For ever panting and for ever young;
    All breathing human passion far above,
    That leaves a heart high-sorrowful and cloyed,
    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 sayst,
    "Beauty is truth, truth beauty, -that is all
    Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know."
    If you're writing a Ode on a Grecian Urn essay and need some advice, post your John Keats essay question on our Facebook page where fellow bookworms are always glad to help!

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