""Beauty is Truth, Truth Beauty,"..."
See in text (Ode on a Grecian Urn)
The poem concludes with a now-famous aphorism: "'Beauty is Truth, Truth Beauty.'" Here Keats establishes an equivalence between two of the transcendental properties of being articulated by Plato: Truth, Beauty, and Goodness. There is no simple summary of Keats's formulation. Indeed, the final wisdom of the urn has been a source of ongoing debate among poets, readers, and scholars for the last two centuries. There are debates over both Keats's intended meaning and the veracity of the aphorism. One way to parse the phrase is to say that objects and scenes of great beauty contain some form of truth for the beholder. That is to say, things occur to us as beautiful for a reason. Conversely, truth itself—the elegant articulation of the world—brings its own illuminating beauty into the world. One might say that, in the context of the poem, the urn offers beauty to be transmuted into truth ("Beauty is Truth") and that Keats's poem is, as an artifact of language, an assertion of truth that is also beautiful, both for its precision of form and its clarity of thought ("Truth Beauty").
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