Reflections on Beauty

Yours Truly
Yours Truly

INTRODUCTION

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

Beauty is...

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

Beauty is...

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.


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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.


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BEAUTY IS ... SCIENCE

Beauty is...

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

Beauty is...

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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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I'D LOVE TO HEAR WHICH OF THESE MEANS MOST TO YOU

Pop one tick into the appropriate box

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I'd Love to Hear Your Comments. Thanks, Alun 26 comments

aesta1 profile image

aesta1 12 months ago from Ontario, Canada

Thank you for setting up my day to what is beautiful. I enjoyed reading your reflections.


Greensleeves Hubs profile image

Greensleeves Hubs 13 months ago from Essex, UK Author

Charito1962; Thank you very much Charito. I am sure the experience of the countryside is a little different in the Philippines, but I think I could enjoy walking for hours seeking out the exotic birds and butterflies you have in your country! Another 'Heaven on Earth' - but maybe a little hotter than here :) Appreciate your comment, Alun


Charito1962 profile image

Charito1962 13 months ago from Manila, Philippines

I share your sentiment in the beauty of nature, Alun. I, too, like "green rolling hills...meadows of wild flowers...a clear blue sky... a gentle breeze blowing... and flowers waving in the breeze."

Yes, I love breathtaking landscapes and seascapes. I pine for peace and serenity - or anything to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

You sure have the gift of expression. Good job in this hub!


Greensleeves Hubs profile image

Greensleeves Hubs 18 months ago from Essex, UK Author

Akriti Mattu; Thanks very much Akriti. It is a beautiful quote from Keats. Cheers for your comment and vote. Alun


Akriti Mattu profile image

Akriti Mattu 18 months ago from Shimla, India

John Keats had said once, " a thing of beauty is a joy forever."

Holds true.

Loved your post. Voted up :)


Greensleeves Hubs profile image

Greensleeves Hubs 20 months ago from Essex, UK Author

jhamann; Spoken like the poet you are Jamie! Your comment and thoughts on this are much appreciated. Thanks, Alun


Greensleeves Hubs profile image

Greensleeves Hubs 20 months ago from Essex, UK Author

pstraubie48; Thanks very much Patricia. True enough there are - I am sure - a lot of places which could be described as 'Heaven on Earth', and one's own home environment often evokes a special fondness in the heart, especially when combined with treasured memories.

Thanks for the shares, pins etc. Cheers, Alun


jhamann profile image

jhamann 20 months ago from Reno NV

There is so many avenues of beauty, so many pathways to joy, this was an example of beauty in composition and thought. Thank you for more than an enjoyable read. Jamie


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 20 months ago from sunny Florida

You definitely nailed it as you shared your feelings and impressions on beaut

Walking through beautiful settings, soaking in the whole the senses can hold is 'heaven on earth' although my 'heaven' may be across the pond from yours. :D

Excellent

Shared voted up+++ pinned to Awesome HubPages

Angels are on the way to you ps


Kristen Howe profile image

Kristen Howe 20 months ago from Northeast Ohio

Anytime my friend. I could've said it better myself.


Greensleeves Hubs profile image

Greensleeves Hubs 20 months ago from Essex, UK Author

Kristen; Thank you Kristen, and cheers for the vote up. There was a lot of sentimentality involved in the writing of this hub and it remains one of my most personal efforts, so I especially appreciate the comments. Alun


Kristen Howe profile image

Kristen Howe 20 months ago from Northeast Ohio

Lovely hub Alun and well said about your reflections on beauty. Very well written and thought out. Voted up!


Greensleeves Hubs profile image

Greensleeves Hubs 23 months ago from Essex, UK Author

deborahmorrison1; Thanks for your thoughtful and considered comment Deborah. It is interesting to hear how different people view a concept such as beauty, what it means to them and why, and which aspects they find most appealing or most poignant. Cheers, Alun


deborahmorrison1 profile image

deborahmorrison1 23 months ago from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Beauty is creativity, beauty is thought, beauty is love, beauty is everything! Beauty is 'creativity' is most fascinating to me, since it is by uplifting our thoughts, feelings, and relationships we enliven all our life experiences and absolutely everything!


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Greensleeves Hubs 3 years ago from Essex, UK Author

stuff4kids; Thank you Amanda for that lovely comment. I really appreciate what you say, and so glad you felt it was uplifting. Alun.


stuff4kids profile image

stuff4kids 3 years ago

Well, that has taken my breath away! If that hub is nothing else - and it is a lot of good things - it is certainly an example of its subject matter: it's beautiful!

So uplifting, thank you. Bless you :)


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Greensleeves Hubs 3 years ago from Essex, UK Author

CrazedNovelist; I very much appreciate your visit and kind words Aubrey. Thank you. Alun.


CrazedNovelist profile image

CrazedNovelist 3 years ago from Hampton, GA

Great hub! Very interesting topic! :) Can't wait to see you around the hubs!

-Aubrey


Greensleeves Hubs profile image

Greensleeves Hubs 4 years ago from Essex, UK Author

Thanks snakeslane. I don't find creative writing (as opposed to purely knowledge based writing) at all easy, and creative writing also involves more emotional input - so it's doubly nice if it's well received. Thanks so much for your visit and comment. Alun.


snakeslane profile image

snakeslane 4 years ago from Canada

Alun, This is beautiful! Regards, snakeslane


Greensleeves Hubs profile image

Greensleeves Hubs 4 years ago from Essex, UK Author

Kathi; thank you so much for your visit and comment. I'm really glad you liked these thoughts and interpretations of what beauty is. Very much appreciated. Alun.


Fossillady profile image

Fossillady 4 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan

Well, this is a stunning piece about beauty. I was especially touched by the beauty of thoughts in the memento you discovered from your mother. Thank you for inspiring my day....Fossillady aka Kathi :O)


Greensleeves Hubs profile image

Greensleeves Hubs 4 years ago from Essex, UK Author

Thank you Rob. Always a pleasure to hear from you, as you are always generous in what you say.

I did struggle with one or two of the sections in this piece because creative writing of this kind is not really my forte, and because I must admit I usually tend to think of beauty in aesthetic visual or perhaps aural terms. But as you say it is a word which has been used by philosophers and poets and others in many different ways, and I can certainly appreciate the broader interpretations of beauty, to include such concepts as a beautiful simplicity, a beautiful intricacy, beautiful thoughts, and the beauty of perfection. Alun.


Robwrite profile image

Robwrite 4 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY

Alun; Beauty-full hub. Very nice. You can go back centuries and read about philosophers arguing over the nature of beauty. It's always an interesting concept to contemplate. You did a nice job.

Well done,

Rob


Greensleeves Hubs profile image

Greensleeves Hubs 4 years ago from Essex, UK Author

Suzie;

I worry more when I write pieces of 'creative writing' than I do when I write purely 'knowledge based' pages. The reason is that with knowledge based pages, even if the quality of writing is not good, at least the information contained may still be of interest to readers. But pieces of creative writing and reflections and musings of this kind stand or fall on the writing quality alone.

It is especially nice therefore Suzie to read your comments about this page. I am truly grateful for your lovely words. Particularly, of course, for your comment on 'The Beauty of a Thought'. That letter I mention really does mean a lot to me, and indeed it made me resolve that in due course, I will write letters to leave for loved ones - because a message like this is the most personal and poignant of things that one can leave to someone.

Once again, thank you Suzie for your very kind words. They are very much appreciated. Alun.


Suzie HQ profile image

Suzie HQ 4 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

Hi Alun,

What an incredible article on Beauty. I love the way you lead with the two distinctive definitions and show then the many many forms Beauty takes. A truly inspired piece of writing with much passion behind the tiniest of phrase.

I'm thrilled that your dad found such a letter that means the world to you and rightly so . . . I know if I were on the receiving end of similar from my late mum it would never leave me, not for anything. It was my favourite section - The Beauty of Thought -

As always your attention to detail is superb and I learn continually from you my friend. Beautiful, Thought Provoking, Insightful are all words to describe this special piece of prose and I thank you!

Voted everything and shared :-)

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