Ode on a Grecian Urn (1819)

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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 breed

  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 (1785-1821)

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READINGS for Powers of Literature
(with Lesson numbers):

1. Genesis 1
Creation Story

1. Genesis 11
Babel Story

2. Odyssey 8
Odysseus' voyage 1

3. Iliad 1-2
Achilles' anger

4. Iliad 9
Mission to Achilles

4. Peleus & Thetis
ancient sources

5. Iliad 15 ff
Death of Patroklos

6. Iliad 20 ff
Burial of Hektor

7. Odyssey 13-18
Return of Odysseus

8. Odyssey 20-24
City of Dreams

9. Life of Alexander
the Homeric king

10. Origins of writing
ancient sources

11. Plato, Euthyphro
Socrates gets busted

12. Plato, Apology
Socrates on trial

13. Plato, Crito
Socrates in jail

14. Plato, Phaedo
Socrates in heaven

15. Luke, Acts
Paul does Christ

16. Saint Francis
gospel without text

17. Chretien, The Knight of the Cart
Sire Lance's genes

18. Virgil, Aeneid
Aeneas & Dido