Saturday, April 13, 2013

Take the World As It Is

Daniel Sprick, Still Life & Mirror, 2004, Oil & Board

TAKE the world as it is!—there are good and bad in it,
  And good and bad will be from now to the end;
And they, who expect to make saints in a minute,
  Are in danger of marring more hearts than they ’ll mend. If ye wish to be happy ne’er seek for the faults,        5
  Or you ’re sure to find something or other amiss;
’Mid much that debases, and much that exalts,
  The world’s not a bad one if left as it is.

Daniel Sprick, Peeled Orange, 1999, Oil & Board

Take the world as it is!—if the surface be shining,
  Ne’er rake up the sediment hidden below!        10
There ’s wisdom in this, but there ’s none in repining
  O’er things which can rarely be mended, we know.
There ’s beauty around us, which let us enjoy;
  And chide not, unless it may be with a kiss;
Though Earth’s not the Heaven we thought when a boy,         
  There ’s something to live for, if ta’en as it is.

Daniel Sprick, Landscape & Pansies, 2003, Oil & Board

Take the world as it is!—with its smiles and its sorrow,
  Its love and its friendship,—its falsehood and truth,
Its schemes that depend on the breath of to-morrow,
  Its hopes which pass by like the dreams of our youth:         
Yet, oh! whilst the light of affection may shine,
  The heart in itself hath a fountain of bliss;
In the worst there ’s some spark of a nature divine,
  And the wisest and best take the world as it is.

Daniel Sprick, Release Your Plans, 2001, Oil & Board

~ Charles Swain (1803–74)

I could think of no better images for this poem than a set of 'Still-Life' images/paintings.  A Still-Live painting comprises inanimate, yet many common objects, which upon close inspection remind us of vanitas (life's fleeting moments/quality). Like this poem, 'Take the World As It Is', these paintings incorporate both the beauty as well as what truly lies beneath the initial view. All things are beauty and all things are fleeting. 

Francesco Salviati, 1552/54, Kairos (Caerus), Fresco, Audience Hall of the Palazzo Sacchetti, Rome, Italy
This notion is not new, nor are 'Still-Lives' and similar to Kairos (or Caerus) the Greek god (youngest divine son of Zeus and in Roman gods is known as either Tempus or Occasio), Kairos never gets old, is always beautiful, is always opportune and flourishes in its season yet, is always on the run.  Kairos holds balanced schales with sharp edges alluding to the instant when opportunity is available, much like life's opportunities and moments are available...Only for a moment, then they are past. 

Aesop's Fable 536 (from Phaedrus 5. 8) (trans. Gibbs) (Greek fable C6th B.C.) : "Running swiftly, balancing on the razor's edge, bald but with a lock of hair on his forehead, he wears no clothes; if you grasp him from the front, you might be able to hold him, but once he has moved on not even Juppiter [Zeus] himself can pull him back: this is a symbol of Tempus [Kairos, Opportunity], the brief moment in which things are possible." [N.B. This fable is associated with famous statue of Kairos at Olympia by the Greek sculptor Lysippos of the C4th B.C. The Greek name Kairos is rendered as Tempus in this Latin version of Aesop's fable.]" Kairos

Seize the moments, the beauty, the opportunity and yet do not deny what makes it so. All things have something lying beneath. ~ Fred

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