Ode On Grecian Urn
The second stanza in Keatsí "Ode on a Grecian Urn" begins with the
statement, "Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard/Are sweeter." Keats
views art as something that is eternal and lets you experience whatís
happening in the painting. While he cannot actually hear the music of the young
manís pipes, he can just imagine how sweet the melody would sound. If one was
to hear music played, it would only please him for the duration of the song, but
in looking at a painting of a youth playing pipes one can take pleasure in it
every time he looks at the painting. Of course, in Keatsí time there were no

CDs or cassettes. In the same stanza, Keats speaks of the young manís lover.

He tells the youth that although he is so close to his lover but cannot kiss
her, he shouldnít be upset because they will always love each other and they
will never grow old and ugly. Keats treats these painted characters as real
people, as if they were living in their own little world confined to the edges
of the urn. He percieves art as something that is better than real life. Keats
goes on to discuss some trees whose branches, he remarks, can never be bare.

They will always exist in Spring - always green. Keats enjoys the fact that
nature remains the same, and in this particular painting, in its most beautiful
state - Spring. The two lovers will always be in love and will always have
passionate symptoms including fever, heavy breathing, and dry mouth. He gives
very real, very human qualities to these two painted beings. Then in stanza
four, Keats describes a religious sacrifice of a cow. But he goes on to
contemplate where all of these religious people came from. "What little town
by river or sea shore,.../...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 eíer return." He goes far beyond the
reaches of the actual painting, and wonders about how the now empty village will
forever remain silent and desolate. Keats ends the poem by telling the painting
that it will live on to serve as a friend to other generations when his
generation is long gone and dead. By using his imagination in interpreting this
painting, Keats shows us what he thinks about art. A work of art can mean
different things to people, but it remains for many generations to take from it
what they will.