Ode On A Grecian Urn
6 Pages 1586 Words
Ode on a Grecian Urn Summary In the first stanza, the speaker, standing before an ancient Grecian urn, addresses the urn, preoccupied with its depiction of pictures frozen in time. It is the "still unravish'd bride of quietness," the "foster-child of silence and slow time." He also describes the urn as a "historian," which can tell a story. He wonders about the figures on the side of the urn, and asks what legend they depict, and where they are from. He looks at a picture that seems to depict a group of men pursuing a group of women, and wonders what their story could be: "What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape? / What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy?" In the second stanza, the speaker looks at another picture on the urn, this time of a young man playing a pipe, lying with his lover beneath a glade of trees. The speaker says that the piper's "unheard" melody's are sweeter than mortal melodies, because they are unaffected by time. He tells the youth that, though he can never kiss his lover because he is frozen in time, he should not grieve, because her beauty will never fade. In the third stanza, he looks at the trees surrounding the lovers, and feels happy that they will never shed their leaves; he is happy for the piper because his songs will be "for ever new," and happy that the love of the boy and the girl will last forever, unlike mortal love, which lapses into "breathing human passion," and eventually vanishes, leaving behind only a "burning forehead, and a parching tongue." In the fourth stanza, the speaker examines another picture on the urn, this one of a group of villagers leading a heifer to be sacrificed. He wonders where they are going ("To what green altar, O mysterious priest..."), and where they have come from. He imagines their little town, empty of all its citizens, and tells it that its streets will "for evermore" be silent, for those who have left it, fro...
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