In this installment, Sally Bliumis-Dunn reads "Ode on a Grecian Urn" by John Keats. Bliumis-Dunn teaches Modern Poetry at Manhattanville College and SUNY Purchase. She received her MFA in Poetry from Sarah Lawrence College in 2002. Her poems have appeared in Bellevue Literary Review, BigCityLit, Lumina, MARGIE, Nimrod, The Paris Review, Poet Lore, Poetry London, Prairie Schooner, RATTLE, Rattapallax, Spoon River Poetry Review and Chance of A Ghost, an anthology put out by Helicon Nine in 2005. In 2002 she was a finalist for the Nimrod/Hardman Pablo Neruda Prize. Her book, Talking Underwater, was published by Wind Publications in 2007. In February of 2008, she was chosen as one of three poets to read in the Love Poems celebration at The Library of Congress. She lives in Armonk, New York, with her husband, John. They share four children, Ben, Angie, Kaitlin and Fiona.
John Keats, “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.