Let’s just forget for the moment that T.S. Eliot considered the last two lines of John Keats’s “Ode on a Grecian Urn” to be a blight upon an otherwise lovely poem. Keats wrote: “‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty,’ that is all/Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.” Okay, let’s also forget that the quote is craftily lifted from Sir Joshua Reynolds, an 18th century English painter. Finally, and this is my favorite, let’s ignore the fact that our man Keats distilled this fetching bit of wisdom, with the sleek simplicity of a mathematical proof, from contemplating a dusty old vase. At face value, I mean really, can you imagine a finer description of beauty than John’s?
If you’re living in the captivating psychological thriller known as the teenage years, you probably can. Is it an “Ode on a Double Latte,” or a computer program that randomly generates the mating calls of all known mammals, or a kinetic sculpture of the Big Bang constructed entirely of matchsticks? All it takes is a bit of that crazy, way-out-of-the-box, cross-multi-inter-disciplinary, Harry-Potter-meets-Lady-Gaga thinking that happens when you’re watching YouTube videos and thinking “this yoga breakdancing is awesome but would be even cooler if…,” imagining what the character in your favorite book would look like in person, or just laughing with friends.
And just think, first prize is $1000, or enough for a Grecian urn full of lattes. I kid you not—beautiful, eh? And that is all ye need to know.