Ode on a Grecian Urn
by John Keats
Ode on a Grecian Urn Wisdom and Knowledge Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (stanza.line)
Thou, silent form! dost tease us out of thought
As doth eternity: Cold Pastoral! (lines 44-45)
Once again, the speaker suggests that the wisdom of the urn is connected to its silence. The line "tease us out of thought" is one of the most mysterious in the poem. It could indicate that the urn doesn’t really have wisdom to impart; that it can only cause confusion on the part of the observer. Or it could mean that the wisdom of the urn is higher than or "beyond" mere thought, which is conducted primarily through language.
'Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.' (lines 49-50)
Keats distills the urns message down to these two simple, homey-sounding lines. Is this a cop-out, as T.S. Eliot famously believed? Or does the beauty of these lines, combined with their vague and confusing content, only prove the point that Keats wanted to make? And it’s a radical point, to be sure. If the speaker had his way, moral education would consist not of rules and life lessons, but of the experience of beauty. By the way, have you noticed how when you visit a beautiful place with other people, everyone acts a little nicer?