Beauty and Truth in Ode on a Grecian Urn
In Keats “Ode on a Grecian Urn,” the speaker is sorrowful that the characters on the urn will never experience life. They will always be frozen the way they are; the musicians will always be playing their music and the lovers will always be in love. While the urn represents eternity and beauty, it is not living. The speaker at the end of the poem is convinced that beauty is truth, when in fact, that is not always true.
In the beginning of the poem, Keats explains the beauty of the urn and its representative qualities of eternity. The urn also has numerous scenes of nature on it, another thing that Keats finds beautiful. He then ponders about the concept of time and art. The speaker realizes that the characters on the urn on the urn will always remain happy, they will always be the exact way they are, but as humans we must change.
The last line of the poem states, “Beauty is truth, truth beauty, -that is all / Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know” (489). The speaker believes that all as humans that “beauty is truth” is all we need to know. Keats seems to focus on the concept of time, as well as truth and beauty, in the poem as he uses words such as “forever” and “eternal.” The poem depicts scenes of young people in love.
Perhaps Keats is suggesting that youth is beautiful and something that we all want to retain.
Beauty is not always truth nor is the truth always beautiful. For example, the truth can sometimes hurt someone. Keats may be comparing the urn, which symbolizes art as a whole, to life itself. He is saying that art is more beautiful than life because unlike life, art captures a moment in time and the emotions of that moment always remain the same. The musicians and the lovers will always remain happy and in love, whereas in real life their emotions would have eventually changed to something less appealing.
I agree to some degree that art can be sometimes more beautiful than what is happening in our lives. For example, if one was compare a painting to going through a divorce, the painting would obviously be more beautiful. But change can be viewed as beautiful. Life is always changing and diversifying as art always remains static and constant. Therefore, we must be constantly changing to live and life is more precious than art.