January 1820: 190 years ago this month, the John Keats poem, “Ode on a Grecian Urn” was first published. The five stanzas that make up the well-known verse include such lines as:
Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard are sweeter
O Attic shape! Fair attitude! with brede of marble men and maidens overwrought
As well as the oft-quoted ending:
Beauty is truth, truth beauty
During Bellairs' teaching stint in Minnesota, he joined "the baroque process of academic publishing" by trying his hand at some literary criticism including an extended essay about Keats’ poem. Variations on a Vase features Bellairs the bravely confronting three revered Keats scholars and wittily blowing their analysis out of the water. The article was first published in the Southern Review of Adalaide, South Australia, with analysis from two University of Adelaide professors, unimpressed and somewhat incensed by Bellairs' attacks.