A thing of beauty is a joy forever
Its loveliness increases, it will never
Pass into nothingness; but will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.
Very simply put, yet poetic, Keats describes a thing of beauty as emanating joy forever. Its beauty only increases and it will never cease. The benefits proffered by a thing of beauty are listed as giving sound rest with good dreams and well-being.
Therefore, on every morrow, are we wreathing
A flowery band to bind us to the earth,
Spite of despondence, of the inhuman dearth
Of noble natures, of the gloomy days,
Of all the unhealthy and o’er-darkened ways
Made for our searching: yes, in spite of all,
Some shape of beauty moves away the pall
From our dark spirits…
The earth minus the beautiful things is a despondent, spiteful place thriving in callous insensitive dearth and is harsh toward human beings. Every day human beings face gloomy days packed with unhealthy spite and darkness. However, in spite of all, a thing of beauty helps remove the dark cloud that burdens our souls. Hence, the poet says that we – human beings – each day create an ornate band, made of all the lovely things we see. This band keeps us bound to the despondent earth – as we would otherwise be hopeless.
… Such the sun, the moon,
Trees old, and young, sprouting a shady boon
For simple sheep; and such are daffodils
With the green world they live in; and clear rills
That for themselves a cooling covert make
‘Gainst the hot season; the mid forest brake,
Rich with a sparkling of fair musk-rose blooms;
And such too is the grandeur of the dooms
We have imagined for the mighty dead;
All lovely tales that we have heard or read;
An endless fountain of immortal drink,
Pouring unto us from the heaven’s brink.
This closing paragraph simply tells us some of the beautiful things on Earth. After all, beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder – Everyone can highlight something beautiful in anything. The examples cited by the poet are as such: the sun, the moon, trees, flowers, streams, musk-rose blooms, architectural sepulchers, even fairy tales or heroic legends. The ‘simple sheep’ are human beings – the poet sympathizes with the innocence of human beings. Keats sees the beauty in innocent humans seeking solace in nature, and Mother Nature in its own way sprouts a shady abode of relief and consolation. The expression ‘Lily of the valley’ is quite well known and rouses images of a delicate lone white flower holding up its head amidst a setting of thorns and barbs and everything contrary in nature to delicateness – so too are the daffodils mentioned in the poem.
The poet also sees beauty in the death of martyrs and legends. ‘The mighty dead’ are those martyrs who have died bravely for a cause. We honor them by erecting magnificent, grand sepulchers in which beauty is seen. If one looks around, there are innumerable beautiful things to notice – they seem to flow immortally as a fountain, from the gods above to help the pitiable human beings to cope with the harshness of life.