In the first stanza, the author describes an ancient Grecian urn. He calls it a “historian” that can tell a story. On it, he sees several images that represent stories such as, "Thou still unravish'd bride of quietness...A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme".
In the second stanza, the speaker sees a picture of two lovers on the side of the urn. The young man is playing his pipe to his lady. The man is frozen in time since he is stuck on an urn, so he cannot kiss his lady, but he does not worry because he claims that her beauty will never fade.
In the third stanza, the piper and his lady are still together, happily. Their love makes it so that the leaves do not shed: "Ah, happy, happy boughs! That cannot shed Your leaves, nor ever bid the Spring adieu". The speaker expresses his happiness for the young couple as he says that their love will last forever unlike mortal love.
In the fourth stanza, the narrator sees yet another story. This time, he sees a group of villagers taking a "heifer", or a young female cow, to be sacrificed. He wonders about who they are, where they came from, and what their town looked like.
In the fifth, and final, stanza, the narrator describes the urn once again. He says that even when the current generation passes, the urn will still remain to tell stories and pass down lessons to future generations. He also says that the only thing people need to know is that, "Beauty is truth, truth beauty".