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Art and Music: What Is Beauty?

, ডিসেম্বর ১৭, ২০২১ WAT
Last Updated 2021-12-17T10:49:25Z

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What is beauty?


Beauty is easy to appreciate but difficult to define. As we look around, we discover beauty in pleasurable objects and sights - in nature, in the laughter of children, in the kindness of strangers. But asked to define, we run into difficulties.


Does beauty have an independent objective identity? Is it universal, or is it dependent on our sense of perceptions? Does it lie in the eye of the beholder? - we ask ourselves. A further difficulty arises when beauty manifests itself not only by its presence but by its absence as well, as when we are repulsed by ugliness and desire beauty. But then ugliness has as much a place in our lives as beauty or maybe more - as when there is widespread hunger and injustice in society. Philosophers have told us that beauty is an important part of life but isn't ugliness a part of life too? And if art has beauty as an important ingredient, can it confine itself only to a projection of beauty? Can art ignore what is not beautiful?



Poets and artists have provided an answer by incorporating both into their work. In doing so, they have often tied beauty to truth and justice, so that what is not beautiful assumes a tolerable proportion as something that represents some truth about life. John Keats, the romantic poet, wrote in his celebrated 'Ode on a Grecian Urn', 'Beauty is truth, truth beauty,' by which he means that truth, even if it's not pleasant, becomes beautiful at a higher level. Similarly, what is beautiful forever remains true. Another meaning, in the context of the Grecian Urn - an art object-is that, truth is a condition of art.



Poetry in every language celebrates beauty and truth. So does art. Here are two poems from two dif recent times that present some enduring ideas about beauty and truth. The poems are by Lord Byron (1788-1824), an English poet of the Romantic tradition, and Emily Dickinson (1830-1886), an American poet who wrote about human sin, nature, love and death.

She Walks in Beauty

Lord Byron

She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that's best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes;
Thus mellowed to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o'er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express,
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

And on that cheek, and o'er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!

I Died for Beauty

Emily Dickinson

I died for beauty, but was scarce
Adjusted in the tomb,
When one who died for truth was lain
In an adjoining room.
He questioned softly why I failed?
"For beauty," I replied.
'And I for truth - the two are one;
We brethren are," he said.

And so, as kinsmen met a-night,
We talked between the rooms,
Until the moss had reached our lips,
And covered up our names.