Friday, June 03, 2005

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 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, 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."
-John Keats

I've always enjoyed this poem because I can relate to it... it conveys what I've always felt, always known. It is an accurate portrayal of what my reality has become. It's about a relic of ancient Greek civilization, an urn painted with two scenes from Greek life. The first scene, the one that I'm concerned with, depicts lovers in a setting of rustic beauty. The picture, at first glance, represents the timeless perfection only art can capture. The lovers so close to each other; it seems perfect. The urn's characters are frozen in time, so it appears that they will always be together. Unfortunately, because art will never change, the lovers will always love one another, nut they will never reach other. While they will always be so close, they will never truly embrace one another... they will never be together. They will remain alone for eternity, so close to being with the one they love. This is sadly the way of things.

All you can do is bury these feelings so deep inside and hope that they will eventually die and give you some kind of peace... however, each time you do this, you lose a little bit of yourself. A special, innocent part of you dies along with the suppressed emotions.


le cyber flaneur said...

Ah, that is sad but true. "Rarely, rarely, cometh thou - Spirit of Delight"... I forgot who said that, but I know it was one of the Byron/Keats/Shelley dudes.

Frank said...

Ah, very good. You are refering to Percy Shelley. I enjoy his work too. He also says, "Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought."