Truth and Beauty?

I started the day catching up on last weekend’s Guardian Review. I tend to read it piecemeal throughout the week and I am now at the back of the magazine and happened on Jonathan Freedland’s essay on the Post-Truth era. This sent my mind skittering to the Keats poem and the oft quoted “Beauty is truth, truth beauty” from his Ode to a Grecian Urn. As it turns out, after a quick Google search, it seems that Keats wrote the poem in May 1819. It was published anonymously in January 1820. So we have a nice bi-centennial up for consideration.

Today’s poetry practice did a bit of digging via Google and Wikipoedia (what we rely on in the post-truth era) for some context.


Keats spoke that truth was beauty.
(How like a Regency man!)
not taking into account
the economy built
on the human auction block.
All women were property.
The cavalry charged a crowd
so thoughtlessly demanding
one man one vote: a riot
broken under horse's hooves.
The Elgin Marbles purloined
were Keats' models for his ode.

When was beauty so sooty,
so hungry, so ill used, or
so abused?
When was truth so despoiled,
so blind to injustice, or
so abused?

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Image sourced from Wikipoedia. A tracing done by John Keats.