Explain “When old age shall this generation waste,/ Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe…”

“When old age shall this generation waste,
                Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe
Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say’st,
         “Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
                Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”

This forms the concluding passage of Keats’ celebrated poem “Ode on a Grecian Urn”. In course of his idealization of the sculptural art, displayed on a marble vase of Greek, the poet is found to draw an aesthetic lesson, and this is given out here.

The scenes, engraved on the surface of the marble vase of ancient Greece, are, as the perfect specimens of art, not subjected to any sort of decay or change. The sculptural painting has eternised life in its different moods and activities. The generations of men and women may come and go away and experience new sorrows and frustrations, but in the midst of changes and chances in human affairs, the sculptural art on the surface of the Grecian urn shall ever last. It will remain as man’s friend to communicate to him the supreme lesson of the oneness of beauty and truth in art. Beauty and truth are not two different things, nor are they even twins. They are one and the same thing. They are differentiated only by interpreting now them from different angles. As a matter of fact, beauty and truth are identical. What is beauty is truth, just as truth cannot live apart from beauty. When there is no beauty, the presumption is that truth is lacking. Similarly, when there is no truth, beauty can have no intrinsic appeal. The ancient sculptural design on the Grecian urn inspires this very salient lesson of the oneness of beauty and truth and this is the only lesson that it seems to propagate.

The passage seems to bring out the celebrated Keatsian creed about the oneness of beauty and truth. To Keats, it is not enough to know that a thing of beauty is a joy forever. He advances one step forward and asserts boldly that truth and beauty are identical. He concludes with his firmly convincing idea that what is truth is beauty and what is beauty is truth.

Also read; Keats’s concept of “Beauty is truth, truth beauty”

Also read; “Ode on A Grecian Urn” as a representative romantic poetry