O Attic shape! Fair attitude! with brede
Of marble men and maidens overwrought,
With forest branches and the trodden weed;
Thou, silent form, dost tease us out of thought
As doth eternity: Cold Pastoral!
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.
“Meaning” and “knowledge” seem to be an obvious pairing; far more so than the silly old “truth and beauty” schtick. In 1819 Keats was rocking the odes, laying down more quotable lines than Bob Dylan. The one about truth and beauty from Ode on a Grecian Urn sticks in the brain of everyone ever stuck in a sophomore English literature course. The context will be long forgotten but the poetic platitude will remain.
Keats had no knowledge of iPads, orYouTube, or e-publishing. no Nooks, no Kindles. Nor were there motion pictures. Electricity was high tech theoretical with no practical applications. Gas lamps and candles provided light after the sun had set. One might retreat to a cozy nook to read a book, a nook all the cozier for the fire recently laid with kindling. Keats’ conceit, the motion pictured on the vase, the images drawn forth and animated by the prosody within his ode, was remarkable and prescient.
Keats wrote five odes in the spring of 1819. One of his favorites was Ode on Indolence. I ran across a reference to the Ode on Indolence this morning in the key logger file I installed on young Mr. Vindaloo’s machine. Is it wrong, I wonder, for an employer secretly to track the work of his employee? I feel a little conflicted about this, but since the moment I returned to the office and found young Mr. V. all a-twitter, following an online conversation about scripting and application program interfaces and what-not, I’ve also felt vindicated. When it comes time for me to settle the bill with the middleman, the contract services company that sent me young Mr. V. in response to my request for someone who could refurbish my old blog and integrate it with social media, that key-log file will be quite useful, a real money saver.