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Ode On A Grecian Urn Essay

1516 words - 6 pages

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, frozen on the urn, will never return. In the final stanza, the speaker again addresses the urn itself, saying that it, like Eternity, doth tease us out of thought. He thinks that when his generation is long dead, the urn will remain, telling future generations its enigmatic lesson: Beauty is truth, truth beauty. The speaker says that that is the only thing the urn knows, and the only thing it needs to know. Form Ode on a Grecian Urn follows the same Ode-stanza structure as the Ode on Melancholy, though it varies more the rhyme scheme of the last three lines of each stanza.Each of Grecian Urn's five stanzas is ten lines long, metered in a relatively precise iambic pentameter, and divided into a two part rhyme scheme, the last three lines of which are variable. The first seven lines of each stanza follow an ABABCDE rhyme scheme, but the second occurrences of the CDE sounds do not follow the same order. In stanza one, lines seven through ten are rhymed DCE; in stanza two, CED; in stanzas three and four, CDE; and in stanza five, DCE, just as in stanza one. As in other odes (especially Autumn and Melancholy), the two-part rhyme...

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