Ode on a Grecian Urn - Mrs. O`s Brit Lit Webpage

Ode on a Grecian Urn
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-fring'd legend haunt 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, 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.
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.
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.
Literal Sense
In the first stanza, the speaker stands in front of a Grecian urn and describes it as a
“historian” that can tell stories. He notices the figures on the urn and asks where they
come from. Out of curiosity he asks himself questions regarding the figures on the urn.
In the second stanza, the speaker looks at a different picture on the urn of a young man
playing a pipe, with his lover beneath a glade of trees. In the speaker’s opinion, the
piper’s “unheard” melodies are sweeter than mortal melodies because they are
unaffected by time. In the third stanza, the speaker makes it clear that he is happy that
the lovers’ love will never die. In the fourth stanza, he sees another picture on the urn.
This time it is of some villagers taking their heifer to be sacrificed. The speaker wonders
where they will go. In the final stanza the speaker says that the urn is like eternity, when
he dies on the urn will remain.
"SparkNotes: Keatsâ€
s Odes: Ode on a Grecian Urn." SparkNotes: Today's Most Popular
Study Guides. Web. 08 Feb. 2011.
The poem is not obsolete because it is still
being studied very carefully.
 The poem is vivid with many details
making you feel like you are there.
 The etymology of some words in the poem
are not relevant to the meaning of the
Tone & Mood
The poem conveys a romantic mood. It is highly lyrical with a
lot of emotions portrayed.
The poem conveys a peaceful and calming tone for the
readers. Keats wants his readers to feel calm but also
remembering that the images on the urn are
simultaneously frozen in time.
"Explanation of the Meaning and Analysis of "Ode to a Grecian
Urn" a Poemby John Keats." Welcome to ArticleMyriad.com!
Web. 08 Feb. 2011.
Rhetorical Situation
In the poem, the author is speaking to a person/thing that is
either absent or present.
He addresses the urn and the images on it . This seems to
move him and he has many questions regarding the images.
The speaker is not addressing the reader. He speaks only to
the urn.
Figurative Language
The poem does not contain any similes or
 Personification is used often to describe
the images that are seen on the urn.
The speaker mentally pictures images on the urn.
He saw images such as a man playing his pipe, a group
of men pursuing women, and a group of villagers leading
a heifer to be sacrificed.
Through his poem we can see the images that he
describes in detail and we can picture his descriptions of
the images such as the man playing his pipe.
"Ode on a Grecian Urn Symbolism, Imagery &
Wordplay." Shmoop: Study Guides & Teacher
Resources. Web. 11 Feb. 2011.
Imagery continued
• Love symbolizes immortality and the speaker is in a
forever state of love.
• The urn also represents immortality and also beauty by
showing that the lovers will remain in a state of love but
at the same time they will remain static and never be
able to feel the death of their love.
 The poem uses approximate repetition.
 The poem does use the repetition of words
such as the word “happy” in the third stanza.
 The poem does contain alliterations for
example “Thou foster- child of silence and slow
 Keats, John. "Ode on a Grecian Urn: Study
Guide." Free Study Guides for Shakespeare
and Other Authors. Web. 11 Feb. 2011.
Sound Continued
Assonance is shown in the poem “ Thou
foster-child of silence in slow time”
 There is no onomatopoeic words.
 The sounds of the poem are euphony with
pleasing and harmonizing effects.
 The poem is structured in iambic pentameter.
 The poem consists of five stanzas with a formal
 Rhyme pattern appears in the poem between
stanzas in random order.
 For the most part the author did a good job at
creating a peaceful and vivid mood. The poem
creates of sense of unlimited time and curiosity
between the reader and the speaker.
 He describes the pictures on the urn in vibrant
 The rhyme scheme contributed to the poem by
making it more interesting for the reader.
Personal Reactions
 The poem was very intriguing. It left us in a state of
curiosity. The visual images the author describes on the
urn made us imagine how everything was happening
throughout the poem.
 It did not relate to us because it describes love as an
immortal thing but in reality we all know that love
eventually dies out.
John Keats
 John Keats was born in London, England, on October 31, 1795. He was an
English Romantic poet that stressed that man’s quest for happiness and joy
is prevented by sorrow in human nature. In 1811 Keats became an
apprentice to an apothecary in Edmonton, England. There Keats first tried
his hand writing skills and produced four stanzas entitled "Imitation of
Spenser. On October 2, 1815, Keats started medical studies at Guy's
Hospital. He was a cautious student, but poetry affected his vivid
imagination. All of Keats’ poetry is filled with a mysterious yet elevating
sense of beauty and joy. His works have many possibilities but do not have
just one specific answer to the problems of life. Keats’ major point was the
experience of life, not perfectly understanding it. In September 1820, even
with his health problems, Keats left for Italy on an invitation from the poet
Percy Bysshe Shelley. He died the next year in Rome on February 23, 1821,
at the age of twenty-five.
 "John Keats Biography - Life, Children, Parents, Story, Death, Mother,
Information, Born, Marriage, Time." Encyclopedia of World Biography.
Web. 16 Feb. 2011. <http://www.notablebiographies.com/Jo-Ki/KeatsJohn.html>.