John Keats (1795-1821) was an orphan who was first apprenticed to a surgeon before choosing poetry and literature as a profession. He died very young (he was only twenty-six year old) but wrote a lot a works; he is also considered a model by the Aesthetic movement’s members because of his identification between art and beauty, and his searching for perfection. Before dying, he wrote his own epitaph: “Here lies one whose name was written in water”, thus enhancing the fragility of life and the power of time, which can delete everything except art.
This sense of the fragility of men and the strength of art is represented in one of his most famous work, “Ode on a Grecian Urn”. Keats loved Greek art and literature, and he often visited the British Museum, where he saw the vase that inspired him this ode. The Grecian Urn stands for the art, which will survive during the centuries and will be a witness of the past, while men will die and lose their beauty. Art is the only thing that will survive to the erosion of time; to create art, men need imagination: imagination is the supreme faculty of the poet, and represents the power to make things more beauty than in reality. In the end, beauty is truth and truth is beauty, and beauty as truth is the supreme goal of the poet’s life.