Nature Meditation #18 – Beauty

“Beauty is truth, truth beauty,” – that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.” – John Keats, “Ode on a Grecian Urn”

“A thing of beauty is a joy forever; its loveliness increases; it will never Pass into nothingness; but still will keep A bower quiet for us, and a sleep Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.” – John Keate, “Endymion”

“Those things are better which are perfected by nature than those which are finished by art.” – Cicero, “Pro Archia Poeta”

Somewhere there is another quote about beauty that is in my mind, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Who said that?

Today, I am wondering how it is that I perceive such peace and perfection in the beauty of nature. Undisturbed nature seems to be perfection itself. Symmetrical, full of color so intense that I gasp when I see it.  The brilliant blue of a rain-washed sky. The effervescent green of new mown grass. The flash of red on the woodpecker’s back.

Recently returned from eastern Ireland, I still see the bright yellow gorse flowers when I close my eyes. The prickly bush grows everywhere, on the cliffsides and rolling hills of the headlands, and on the lowlands of the midlands. Not being from there, I don’t know if the people who live there consider it a bother. Perhaps they want to get rid of it, think of it as a weed. They may not see beauty when they see the flowering gorse bushes. But I did. Even when I reached out to touch the petals, and ended up with a thorn in my finger, I found it beautiful.
But is beauty strictly a perception of vision? Can we ‘smell’ beauty? Touch beauty? Hear beauty? When we think about senses besides vision, beauty  becomes about something else. It becomes about harmony, and pitch, and softness, smoothness, aromas that make our mouths water as we are teased about a taste that we enjoy.

Is beauty simply about sensory pleasures? Or is there more to it than that? Do memories play a part, or DNA? Do people of a certain ancestry find beauty in the same things – the same foods, the same scenes and sounds?

I don’t know, but I would liike to hear what you think! Take a minute to send me a comment on beauty, what you think it is, and why you think we ‘sense’ beauty. It may provoke some interesting discussions.

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