A Thing of Beauty is A Joy For Ever (Keats)
Beauty attracts us greatly. We appreciate the beauty of nature and the beauty created by human art. All art is dedicated to joy and the purpose of all art is to express emotions through the medium of beauty.
A good musician creates an enchanting world. Addison, the famous English essayist, considers music the greatest food that mortals know. When Orpheus played on his golden harp, the high hills listened to him and even the clouds sailed along more brightly in the sky. Beethoven and Tansen enraptured people. Heard melodies, to quote Keats, are sweet, but those unheard are sweeter.
A master-painter delights everyone. For him even the smallest objects have beauty. Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa gives ineffable joy to all. We are also reminded of the paintings by Rurner, Raphael, Tembrandt, NandLal Bose and-others.
Wordsworth loves natures passionately. The beautiful daffodils “fluttering and dancing in the breeze” give him great joy. His heart leaps up when he beholds a rainbow. The sight from Westminster Bridge delights him.
Keats’ life was unhappy and he took refuge in beauty. He is content to express the beauty of nature through the senses. He is the most richly sensuous of the poets in English literature. There is not a mood of earth he does not love, not a season that will not cheer and inspire him. His friend Haydon tells us “the humming of a bee, the sight of a flower, the glitter of the sun seemed to make his nature tremble; then his eyes flashed, his cheeks glowed and his mouth quivered”.
Keats is perhaps the greatest worshiper of beauty in English literature. The worship of beauty is the message and motivation of his poetry. The opening lines of his poem Endymion express his desire to escape from the world and find beauty in nature; in the story of the world’s heroism and in all the lovely tales we have heard or read.
Keats considers beauty something immortal. It is a source of great joy. It sustains us. It solaces us. When a song is over, the words or notes of the song still linger and echo in the memory. Although violets fade, as Shelley says. our senses still retain something of their perfume.
For Keats, beauty is truth and truth beauty. Though man’s life is transient, the art he creates is immortal. That which is engraved on the Grecian Urn will remain as a source of joy for generations. Like Tennyson’s brook, art tells us, “Men may come and men may go, but I go on forever”. “The figures and all they symbolized are gone,” says Compton Rickett, but art has given them a lasting durability and so links the ages together”.
“It is no small thing”, says Arnold, “to have so loved the principle of beauty as to perceive the necessary- relation of beauty with truth and of both with joy.”