July 21, 2020 (New York, NY)— Five years ago during National Poetry Month, the Academy of American Poets reached out to late Congressman and Civil Rights leader John Lewis, among other public figures, to ask him to share his favorite lines of poetry.

Congressman Lewis mailed back his response on his official letterhead:

John Lewis's favorite lines of poetry

‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty’—that is all
    Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

These are the last two lines of “Ode on a Grecian Urn” by John Keats, a poem that remarks on truth, and truth revealed in art, that’s everlasting.

The poem was one of five by Keats considered to be poems of exceptional artistic achievement. The others are “Endymion,” “Hyperion,” “Ode on Melancholy,” and “Ode to a Nightingale.” Born in 1795 in London, Keats is known as an English Romantic poet. He died at age twenty-five in Rome.

About the Academy of American Poets

The Academy of American Poets is the nation’s leading champion of poets and poetry with supporters in all fifty states. Founded in 1934, the organization produces Poets.org, the world’s largest publicly funded website for poets and poetry; organizes National Poetry Month; publishes the popular Poem-a-Day series and American Poets magazine; provides award-winning resources to K–12 educators, including the Teach This Poem series; administers the American Poets Prizes; hosts an annual series of poetry readings and special events; and coordinates a national Poetry Coalition working together to promote the value poets bring to our culture. Through its prize program, the organization annually awards more funds to individual poets than any other organization, giving a total of $1,250,000 to more than 200 poets at various stages of their careers. This year, in response to the global health crisis, the Academy joined six other national organizations to launch Artist Relief, a multidisciplinary coalition of arts grantmakers and a consortium of foundations working to provide resources and funding to the country’s individual poets, writers, and artists who are impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.