Ode to a Grecian Urn

Fresh from reading Cleanth Brooks’ essay on Keats’ Ode to a Grecian Urn [“Keats’s Sylvan Historian, 164-66], where it’s wondered if the last two lines feel like an authentic part of the poem or instead have a rather tacked-on, abruptly “sententious” feeling.

My own thought is that, if these lines do feel somewhat forced, it is owing to the rhythmic and assonant difficulties of the stanza rather than to philosophical or tonal departures — the rampant off-rhyming of say’st and waste, of pastoral and all; the enjambment of “that is all/ Ye know on earth”; and a feeling of crampedness in the third to last line; none of these being individually a problem, somewhat work against each other; and make this stanza seem to me –sonically, rhythmically– not quite a hard landing for the poem as a whole.
[Poem.] Final stanza:

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.’

%d bloggers like this: