Beauty Is Truth Truth Beauty
What do these lines mean? "Beauty is truth, truth beauty"-that is all Ye know on Earth, and all ye need to know. Are they spoken by the narrator or the urn?
In brief: Art has the power to communicate the truth of human experience.
The line in question is somewhat difficult to explicate, but when taken in context of the rest of the poem, Keats seems to be suggesting that the urn presents a set of messages. Taken together these messages can be identified as truth -- or the conclusive notions taken away from images of life that function as a comment on the nature of that life.
One way to paraphrase the line "Beauty is truth, truth beauty" is to say that art conveys human knowledge and insights better than any other conveyance of meaning (better than science, perhaps, or better than music).
The urn, after all, is depicting human life in various stages and engaged in various tasks. Youth and joy and sacrifice and, thus, religion are all represented. Furthermore, these ideas are presented in such a way as to maintain their mystery and their enigmatic significance. None of the magic of these aspects of life is lost when represented on the urn.
A repeated suggestion in the poem is that by not speaking and by maintaining an allegiance with silence, the urn is capable of articulating both the substance of life and its more mysterious nature.
Thou still unravish'd bride of quietness,Thou foster-child of silence and slow time,Sylvan historian, who canst thus expressA flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme
Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woeThan ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say'st...
The urn speaks these lines to mankind. They address an age old philosophical question: what is truth? The lines mean that rather than seeking the answer to this question in pure reason, we should seek it in beauty: that beauty is the truest thing humanity can experience.
Opinions are divided whether this is Keats' or the urn's comment. Due to the punctuation of the lines, it is conceivable Keats is declaring that beauty is the only time that a subject's true inner nature truly revealed.
In lines 49-50 of this poem, the speaker is implying that beauty, which is art, is all that people should consider and admire. In reality, there are things in life that are ugly, such as poverty and war. Individuals should only pay attention to the positives, rather than contemplating other things that involve negativity.