Beauty is truth, truth beauty
This is Keats’ conclusion to what must be called a perfect poem.
Triadic Philosophy regards this statement as the very heart of teleology, of what transcends and moves beyond all statements expressing the tendency of Reality, the destiny of the cosmos, the essence of each life as it unfolds upon this planet.
It is the heart of aspiration and the substance of knowledge.
It is a statement.
It remains a statement.
It attains reality for us as it plays out in experience, sometimes faintly, sometimes with resonance, sometimes with shock as we note the disjunctures between truth and beauty that sully and disfigure both.
Keats is seen as a romantic but the very best romantics are realists as well.
The reality Keats flags for us is the
when evil is before us,
even in religious dress
as it is here.
Keats understands and therefore Triadic Philosophy understands that there is finally no index of reality that is not in essence a spectrum that goes from the very height that we can aspire to to the very depths of what we allow.
The death of happiness.
Truth may cry forth but when it lacks beauty it is not really truth.
Beauty may be emblazoned all about, but when it is false, when it lacks truth, it is dross.
In a bare five words we summarize all we do know and all we need to know.
Tell that to common core.
Tell that to the academy.
Tell that to those who defend what we have had forever as a rightful ethic.
True ethics does not tolerate “the sacrifice” as the heart of Reality.
Sacrifice is beautiful only as it creates the basis for lives that are not crushed and macerated by the evil forces of the mindless and the selfish.
Freedom of movement.
These are the pillars of an ethic of decency, an attainable ethic for the fallible, the continuing, the evolving.
I close by offering the entire poem and restating that its conclusion is the very heart of teleology, the destination and end of existence. To fuse beauty and truth is the aim of all good endeavor.
Ode on a Grecian Urn
THOU still unravish’d bride of quietness,
Thou foster-child of Silence and slow Time,
Sylvan historian, who canst thus express
A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme:
What leaf-fringed legend haunts about thy shape
Of deities or mortals, or of both,
In Tempe or the dales of Arcady?
What men or gods are these? What maidens loth?
What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape?
What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy?
Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on;
Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear’d,
Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone:
Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave
Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare;
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!
Ah, happy, happy boughs! that cannot shed
Your leaves, nor ever bid the Spring adieu;
And, happy melodist, unwearièd,
For ever piping songs for ever new;
More happy love! more happy, happy love!
For ever warm and still to be enjoy’d,
For ever panting, and for ever young;
All breathing human passion far above,
That leaves a heart high-sorrowful and cloy’d,
A burning forehead, and a parching tongue.
Who are these coming to the sacrifice?
To what green altar, O mysterious priest,
Lead’st thou that heifer lowing at the skies,
And all her silken flanks with garlands drest?
What little town by river or sea-shore,
Or mountain-built with peaceful citadel,
Is emptied of its folk, this pious morn?
And, little town, thy streets for evermore
Will silent be; and not a soul, to tell
Why thou art desolate, can e’er return.
O Attic shape! fair attitude! with brede
Of marble men and maidens overwrought,
With forest branches and the trodden weed;
Thou, silent form! dost tease us out of thought
As doth eternity: Cold Pastoral!
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,
‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty, — that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.’
Enjoyed reading this piece? Please hit recommend and share with others.