Reflections on Beauty
- 'A combination of qualities, such as shape, colour, or form, that pleases the aesthetic senses'
- 'A combination of qualities that pleases the intellect or moral sense.'
Two Oxford Dictionary Definitions.
Beauty embraces so much of what we love in life. Some of the elements of beauty, including visible beauty, are clear and easy to understand - such as a beautiful girl, a beautiful flower, a beautiful landscape. But these are qualities of beauty at its most basic, as in the first definition above - this is the sense of aesthetic beauty.
Other elements are much less tangible - such as the perfection of form in nature, the harmony of music, the exquisite replication of life in reproduction, and the coming together of seemingly disparate parts to make a united and perfect whole. Design which is beautiful in its simplicity, and design which is beautiful in its intricacy. This is the second definition above. This is the sense of intellectual or moral beauty.
Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but there are aspects of our world which should be beautiful to all. This page carries a handful of my reflections on the many interpretations of beauty, as defined above.
BEAUTY IS ... A HUMAN FACE
In the face of a baby.
In the happy laugh of a child.
In the adoration of a lover's eyes.
In the worried frown of a caring parent.
In the wrinkled joy of a grandparent.
In the contented smile of a life fulfilled.
BEAUTY IS ... LIFE ON EARTH
The bright colour of flowers.
The fragility of a small butterfly.
The grace of a slender crane.
The agility of a leaping gazelle.
The muscular power of a tiger.
The majesty of a great oak tree.
THE BEAUTY OF NATURE
When asked to name the most special atmosphere, the most enjoyable experience, the most beautiful stimulation of the senses, my answer may be surprising. It is not an exotic cultural experience or festive occasion, nor even a romantic encounter.
Heaven on Earth is walking in the English countryside. Walking on green rolling hills, through meadows of wild flowers. On a Sunday in summer, under a clear blue sky, a gentle breeze blowing. And a camera and a nature guide book in hand.
All senses engage. The flowers waving in the breeze, the refreshing coolness on the face, the sound of bumble bees busily going about their business gathering nectar flower to flower. The distant sound of church bells in a village steeple calling the faithful to prayer, and the delicate butterflies flitting among the blooms. And high high above - a tiny speck in the clear blue sky as a skylark sings its heart out for all to hear. A guide to identify the flowers, the insects, the birds, a camera to pursue my hobby. This carefree tranquility is far removed from the stress of city life. Walking here, in nature, all the senses enriched. All contented. All beautiful.
BEAUTY IS ... SCIENCE
In the microscopic harmony of the atom, the balance of matter and energy, the interchange and recombination of ions to create all molecules of substance.
In the perfection of the DNA, the unique molecule of replication, the unification of sperm and egg, and the spontaneous creation of miraculous miniatures of life.
In the intricate recycling of all matter on Earth through the hydrosphere and the biosphere, the continuous exchange of life giving molecules across the planet.
In the magnificence of the workings of the Universe, stellar death and stellar birth, the regeneration of new worlds in the demise of old.
BEAUTY IS ... THE LIQUID OF LIFE
Water droplets splashing as melting snow heralds a new spring, and rain-drops refreshing the land to nurture the regrowth of life.
The tranquil sound of gentle bubbling streams and the calming serenity of placid pools and lakes of limpid water, the sustenance of all life on land.
The oceans - the birthplace of life on Earth - and the lapping of the oceanic tide against the shoreline, the site of life's emergence on to land.
The miracle of water, a molecule so beautiful in its simplicity of design and so beautiful in the complexity of the life it permits to exist.
BEAUTY IN CREATIVITY
Beauty is to be seen ...
In the genius of artists and sculptors, dancers, writers, composers and designers.
In the smallest ornamental figurine ... and in the greatest monumental architecture.
In the joy of children's' games ... and in the grace of the prima ballerina's dance.
In the wit of a few well chosen words ... and in the masterpiece of a great play.
In the complexity of spoken language ... and in the harmony of musical composition.
In the simplicity of designs which work ... and the aesthetics of designs which please
In the billions of electrical and chemical reactions in the human brain, all seemingly so chaotic, and yet together they give us creativity ... and in the intangibility of the human soul which transforms that creativity into things of beauty.
BEAUTY IN LOVE
TOUCH - The touch of the lips, the caress of the body, the clutching of hands, the embrace.
SIGHT - The friendly smile, contact eye to eye, the shapely form, that prettiest face.
HEARING - The sweetness of voice, and the softness of breathing as two lovers lay together.
EMOTION - To love to be together, to hate to be apart, to fear to lose her, to be happy in her joy.
THOUGHT - To think of her body, to think of her smile, and to think of her voice. To think of her touch. Just - to think of her.
THE BEAUTY OF A THOUGHT
My mother died in 2002. A month or two after this, my father was going through some of the drawers in the bedroom, when buried underneath some of her clothing, he found an envelope. It contained a short letter from my mother, in which there were some requests, and a mention of my relationship with her. She said something of that relationship which she had never said in life. She said:
- he has sacrificed so much for me - ever since his university days he has been my main support in keeping me sane and has brought me back from depths of despair on so many occasions'
The rest of the letter will not be disclosed. I mention this now because recent family issues have undermined my confidence and hurt and frustrated me. The beauty in this letter for me is in the sentiment. I read this letter frequently because it reaffirms for me the value I have had in the life of the person who loved me most and needed me most. It makes me feel that however little I achieve, I have achieved one thing worthwhile. In my life I have awards and certificates, I have mementos of special people and souvenirs of special occasions. But nothing is more treasured or more beautiful to me than this letter - it signifies the proudest moments of my life.
THE BEAUTY OF EARTH - ALMOST NOTHING, YET EVERYTHING
A tiny tiny speck.
A dot, a tiny jewel of blue and green and white.
Tiny and vulnerable and fragile in the black which reaches out forever.
This is the tiny beauty of something which is almost nothing in the infinity of space.
A great great globe.
A great sphere of life of every shape and form.
Great and self-sustaining and holding at bay the blackness of space.
This is the great beauty of something which is everything to the life which lives on it.
I'D LOVE TO HEAR WHICH OF THESE MEANS MOST TO YOU
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I HOPE YOU WILL ALSO LOOK AT SOME OF MY OTHER POEMS, STORIES AND REFLECTIONS ...
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