I have always seen
a strong Neoplatonic influence in that particular line of
Beauty comes first. It is
through beauty that the mind can rise to know Truth, and not vice versa. Beauty
means Virtue, hence Beauty is the good -- the supreme good is Truth. Keats'
Beauty is Plato's eros, guiding the mind to the discovery of the real
world, the world of Ideas. This re-interpretation of Plato fits the Romantic
idea of exotism and escape from reality.
I believe a good paraphrasis
of that line would be, "Beauty leads to Truth, and Truth is made known by
Beauty". Indeed, that is all we know on earth (for we can physically perceive
Beauty) and all we need to know (because Truth is not immediately accessible in
this lower world). Hence, Beauty is a sort of hyponym to
This is just my opinion,