Ode on a Grecian Urn
How we cite our quotes:
Thou still unravish’d bride of quietness, (line 1)
"Ravished" can mean "stunned" or "bowled over," but it can also mean, more bluntly, "raped or violated by force." There’s a hint of irony in this opening line; it’s hard to imagine our mellow friend Mr. Quietness "ravishing" anyone.
What men or gods are these? What maidens loth?
What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape?
What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy? (lines 8-10)
These questions can be misleading, but we can piece the general story together: a bunch of the guys are chasing the gals through the woods. This isn’t a tender, intimate scene; it’s practically a sex party. Keats isn’t just throwing this in here to be racy. The classical civilizations of Ancient Greece and Rome really were quite sexually adventurous, and scenes like this one were not infrequent. The Greeks like to cut loose on occasion and experience moments of "wild ecstasy."
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! (lines 17-20)
"Thy bliss" seems a fairly clear reference to sexual bliss. The male lover hasn’t hooked up with the maiden yet, which the speaker thinks is a good thing. They don’t have to worry about the awkward period "after" they do the deed, and he’ll never have to watch his love get old and wrinkly with age (and vice-versa). The couple will always be at their height of their attraction for one another.