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Ode to Timeless Truth and Beauty


Ode to Timeless Truth and Beauty The final two lines, in which the speaker imagines the urn speaking its message to mankind—‖Beauty is truth, truth beauty,‖ have proved among the most difficult to interpret in the Keats canon. After the urn utters the enigmatic phrase ―Beauty is truth, truth beauty,‖ no one can say for sure who ―speaks‖ the conclusion, ―that is all / Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.‖ It could be the speaker addressing the urn, and it could be the urn addressing mankind. If it is the speaker addressing the urn, then it would seem to indicate his awareness of its limitations: The urn may not need to know anything beyond the equation of beauty and truth, but the complications of human life make it impossible for such a simple and self-contained phrase to express sufficiently anything about necessary human knowledge. If it is the urn addressing mankind, then the phrase has rather the weight of an important lesson, as though beyond all the complications of human life, all human beings need to know on earth is that beauty and truth are one and the same. It is largely a matter of personal interpretation which reading to accept.The following ,which I gather from the Internet,are some views about who is the speaker of the last two lines in the ode. Jack Stillinger, the most widely respected recent editor of Keats’ complete poems, offers no less than four ―most frequently mentioned possibilities‖ when it comes to deciding just who is saying ―Beauty is

truth‖ to whom in the last two lines of Keats’ ―Urn‖: ―(1) poet to reader, (2) poet to urn, (3) poet to figures on the urn, (4) urn to reader.‖But, Mr. Stillinger added, ―serious objections have been raised to all four‖ of the possibilities he mentions, and those four don’t even begin to conjur e up the complications which arise when one has to consider what part of the last two lines–the ―Beauty is truth, truth beauty‖ part, or the entire last two lines–are spoken by the urn or by the poet, and to whom. Marjorie Garber begins by quoting what she characterizes as the consensus wisdom on the question, from Helen Vendler, author of The Odes of John Keats.Ms. Vendler argues that ―The last two lines are spoken by the urn, which places special emphasis on the motto-like epigram ["Beauty is truth, truth beauty"] before going on to comment on its unique worth. But the whole last sentence of the poem [beginning with "When old age …"] is the sentence of the speaker who, in his prophecy, recounts what the urn will say to succeeding generations.‖ professor Marjorie Garber takes issue with both Professors Vendler and Stillinger over whether the crux is settled and it must be the urn speaking the entire last two lines. She questions what it might mean if the quotation marks were removed or expanded, and whether the speaker might be commenting on the motto of the urn after quoting it. Besides, most commentators on the―Ode on a Grecian Urn‖ fall into two groups: those who find it a good poem with an imperfect ending and

those who find it an imperfect poem with a good ending.For me, after reading the poem, I don’t have such criticism.I believe it’s a good ending, which leaves us with a mysterious, yet awe worthy, satisfaction.Though it may be a mystery to some, after reading the couple lines before, I have drawn a satisfying answer.―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‖. The speaker explains to the reader in these lines, that when you can not find an answer to the troubles in this world, you can turn to this age old piece of art and it will tell you all you need to know. The themes found in ―Ode on a Grecian Urn‖ written by John Keats show our world that truth and beauty are ageless factors that apply to everyone on earth. Everyone loves, and everyone experiences truth through their own personal experience. The speaker in this poem gives us his interpretation to how he recognizes the truth and beauty shown by a piece of art. Many pictures are frozen in time, which gives us the opportunity to step back and find truths in the rushing world we live in.If we analyze contributed themes such as these in artwork experienced in our own lives, we can see the truth and beauty within.


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