Ode on a Grecian Urn by John keats

O my dear Urn,

Lemme see how I can greet you properly.

You, the unspoiled bride of quietness, the adopted child of silence and slow-moving time, history written using scenery (and so can express a beautiful story more beautifully than my poems).

I know I already messed up.

I wonder what stories found in old torn and tattered books can be found on your shape. Are these stories of goddesses, of men and women, or of all? Are these stories from old cities or from remote valleys? Who are these men or gods painted on your surface? Who are these women who are ever so reluctant? What are they chasing and why? What are they struggling to escape from and why? Why are they beating their timbrels and blowing their pipes? Why is their happiness so intense and wild?

The songs we have heard are all so sweet, but surely there must be better ones which we can imagine. The unheard ones ought to be sweeter since they exist only in our imagination and imagination can make anything cho chweet. So I imagine the pipes I see on this urn as playing on. I can’t hear their music but I imagine it to be sweeter that what I have ever heard. When they play they are not playing to my real ears, for sure, but more (love it) to my soul and the songs have no particular tone.

Hey, I see a young man under this tree. Painted figures, they all are. See this young man can’t stop singing. The trees around him will never shed their leaves. In this picture it is always spring. Nothing changes and everything stays fresh. Simply awesome.

I also see a bold lover, trying to kiss his beautiful girl. Bold and beautiful. But he can only try. She can only expect. They will never kiss. They are painted in that position on the surface of this urn. They are close to winning their goal or reaching the aim. But the real act of kissing won’t happen. This should not be any cause of sorrow. She is not going away. Though the young man cannot enjoy the bliss of a kiss, his girl is going to be there for him anytime and he can love her eternally. Moreover, she will always be this fair and loveable forever and ever.

I see some trees that can bring happiness to the scene. They can never shed their leaves and look ugly. It will be always spring for them. Caught and arrested as images, they cannot change like the rest of the world. There is a man playing on a flute. He is happy and so are his songs. He will never get tired. He will be playing on that pipe beautiful music forever and ever. The songs will never get old and stale (like last year’s chartbusters). His songs aren’t heard and so will never be too familiar or old.

I see a lot of love pictured on this urn. Such love will be warm forever and enjoyed eternally. It is far above the love of human beings like us. It is above any passion that we all have. Our passions often leave us sad. Either he loses interest or she loses interest or they both get fed up.  They leave us with a fever, headaches, and a bitter taste in the mouth. The pain gives us a parching tongue as if we are really sick. But this love pictured here is above all that. It is totally unlike ordinary love since it is ever lasting. Never changes or fades. Never loses its colour.

I wonder who these people pictured here are. They seem to be going to attend an animal sacrifice in some unknown forest under the guidance of a mysterious priest. Where is he leading the young calf to? It is lowing at the skies. Its sides, silver in colour, are decorated with garlands. These people have left some little town by a river or a sea-shore. Or even a hillside with a small fort. They have left that place deserted on this pious morning. Pious, because, obviously, it is some kind of a holy ceremonious day for these people. The streets of that town they had left are not pictured on this urn. But I can imagine that there is such a street in some town. It will remain silent till these people have gone back and (OMG!) they won’t and can’t go back. Not even a single man can return to that place and tell us why all the people have left the town. It will always remain a mystery even in our imagination!

My dear Urn, what wonderful shape you have and what ambience you spread around! You are covered all over with decorations and images of men and women in marble; with branches of trees found in forests and weeds that had been stepped on by wayfarers.

By being silently enigmatic and parrying our questions, you sting us out of our commonplace worries (thoughts). This is exactly what eternity does for us. We are taken out of our daily worries and left to awe and wonder at something far beyond us, bigger than us.

You are a piece of frozen countryside. Even when, decades and centuries later, this generation grows old and becomes insignificant (waste) you shall remain as you are. Being a work of art you will remain as such in the midst of the sorrows, different sorrows of a different generation, still a friend to man. That is what a piece of art does. It pleases us generation after generation. (Just like this poem.) You will keep preaching to us the importance of beauty, the only good thing we need to know on this earth. Beauty is the truth about things or the truth about things is what beauty is all about. This is all we know and all that we need to know and remember.

Beauty takes us beyond our petty concerns. It exhilarates us and stills our thoughts. This is why we are speechless when we encounter something beautiful. It is in that moment that we stop worrying. It is the only moment that we fully live in. At all other times we are dying or waiting to die.

 

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