1] No Greek vase has been found which corresponds to Keats's description; it is supposed to be based rather on his general recollection of various works of Greek art as found in the British Museum and as depicted in engravings.
7] Tempe: a valley in Thessaly famous for its beauty.
Arcady: Arcadia, a district of the Peloponnesus, a pastoral country; associated with pastoral poetry.
41] brede: a variant of "braid," an interweaving.
44] tease us out of thought: draw us out beyond the limits of thought. This phrase occurs also in Keats's Epistle to Reynolds, written in March 1818: "Things cannot to the will/Be settled, but they tease us out of thought."
49-50] Beauty and truth are associated several times in Keats's letters: "What the imagination seizes as Beauty must be truth" (Nov. 22, 1817); ". . . in close relationship of Beauty and Truth" (Dec. 21, 1817); "I can never feel certain of a truth but from a clear perception of its Beauty" (Dec. 31, 1818). When the poem was first published in Annals of the Fine Arts, the last two lines were without quotation marks. In Lamia, etc., "Beauty is truth, truth beauty" was set in quotation marks as words of the urn, the rest being comment by the poet. This reading has caused unnecessary grammatical confusion. Keats was ill when Lamia, etc., was being prepared for the press, and we do not know who introduced the limited quotation. Our text follows the example of the Riverside edition (Douglas Bush, ed.) in putting the last two lines in quotation marks.
Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department
of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.
Original text: Annals of the Fine Arts, 15 (Dec. (?) 1819). Reprinted with minor changes in John Keats, Lamia, Isabella, The Eve of St. Agnes, and Other Poems (1820). Facs. edn.: Scolar Press, 1970. PR 4830 E20AB Fisher Rare Book Library (Toronto).
First publication date: 1820
RPO poem editor: J. R. MacGillivray
RP edition: 3RP 2.651.
Recent editing: 4:2001/12/20
Form: English Ode
Other poems by John Keats