Friday, November 23, 2007

What Keats meant

John Keats wrote these famous lines in his poem, “Ode on a Grecian Urn”.

"Beauty is truth, truth beauty," - that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”

As per the Wikipedia entry, , there has been much speculation over the meaning of the famous Ode, due to uncertainty over where the punctuation is placed. It is not clear, whether the last lines are spoken by the urn, or representative of the poet's view. Also, it may be that only "Beauty is truth, truth beauty" is spoken, and the rest is the poet's comment. Nobody is sure.

At last I have discovered what Keats meant .

This Keats character was one of those rare westerners who could read and write Chinese as well as Tamil.

Now, due to a linguistic coincidence, the Chinese word for beauty is ‘mei’, which in Tamil happens to mean “truth”.

So, Keats, in that convoluted manner typical of poets was trying to say that beauty in Chinese was truth in Tamil.
That is all ye need to know . Now run. ( "Run" in Tamil is "odu", which is what Keats wrotu.)


Usha said...

sure. and he did not even have to say "now run" because once, like you, they understood the poet's intent, they would have runnu ( with pinnagal on pidari)

Shruthi said...


Anonymous said...

Heh. Odu on a Grecian Urn? A poem written for lilliputians?

Raj said...

usha : :)

shruthi : thanks. Is that D part of the smiley series?

Dijo : Or, maybe the Grecian urn was very large.