Peter Montgomery wrote:

> It is a metaphysical conceit insofar as it makes a radical leap that
> is not easily explainable by logic. On the other hand it lacks the
> immediacy of the odour of a rose, because, weirdly enough for a
> statement involving beauty, it does not involve the senses.

Dear Peter,
    Yes and no.  What about the preceding 48 lines?  I started to
excerpt the "immediate" bits, but ended up with so much of the poem that
I'll give it whole.  Your point seems based on an assumption that the
line is isolated from the poem.  As for a radical leap, Horace says that
we go to a poem for instruction and delight -- truth and beauty, perhaps
-- form and function, technique and content, at least from the poet's
point of view.  Doesn't seem radical or unfathomable to me.


            Ode on a Grecian Urn
                John Keats


            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.