From The Principal
Beauty is truth, truth is beauty, - that is all…
Today marks the 200th anniversary since the death of poet John Keats.
Perhaps the greatest of the romantic poets, Keats was a prodigy by any definition. Dying at age 25, Keats’ writing perhaps more than any of the Romantic poets embodies the idealism, indeed the romanticism, of the era. As is often the case with genius, Keats’ writing was not particularly popular during his all too brief life; time not affording the chance for the world to chase where he was leading them. Amongst his greatest achievements, Keats is credited with popularising and honing the poetic concept of synaesthesia: the merger of the senses. In ‘Ode to a Nightingale’ Keats describes how ‘in some melodious plot / Of beechen green / Singest of summer in full throated ease’; the voice of summer a concept imbued with the intermingling of sound and the senses.
Anniversaries afford the chance to reflect, reconnect and perhaps rekindle an affection. I studied Keats first at university and then later had the pleasure to teach it as part of a Year 12 Literature course in Victoria. Amongst my most satisfying, and until writing this article forgotten, moments of teaching was reading a creative response by a student endeavouring to emulate Keats’ style: such are the memories that anniversaries afford.
The title of this article is perhaps Keats’ most famous line of verse: the penultimate line to his poem ‘Ode to a Grecian Urn’. Written soon following the Age of the Enlightenment and structured as a self-justifying maxim, the line defies clear explanation and yet proports to offer an elegant simplicity to life’s meaning. For me, and for what it might well be worth, I see the line as a yearning for us to find pleasure in where we find beauty in our lives for this is the one true source of happiness.
With that, I wish you well for the week ahead as we approach the mid-point of Term One.
May we prosper by our handiwork.