From Beauty by the Irish poet/philosopher John O'Donohue (1956-2008):
"The beauty of the earth is the first beauty. Millions of years before us the earth lived in wild elegance. Landscape is the first-born of creation. Sculpted with huge patience over millenia, landscape has enormous diversity of shape, presence and memory. There is a poignancy in beholding the beauty of landscape: it often feels as though it has been waiting for centuries for the recognition and witness of the human eye.
"In the ninth Duino Elegy, Rilke says:
Perhaps we are here in order to say: house,
bridge, fountain, gate, pitcher, fruit-tree, window...
To say them more intensely than the Things themselves
Ever dreamed of existing.
"We were once enwombed in the earth and the silence of the body remembers that dark, inner longing. Fashioned from clay, we carry the memory of the earth. Ancient, forgotten things stir within our hearts, memories of the time before the mind was born. Within us are depths that keep watch. These are depths that no words can trawl or light unriddle. Our neon times have neglected and evaded the depth-kingdom in favor of the ghost realms of cyberspace. Our world becomes reduced to intense but transient foreground. We have unlearned the patience and attention of lingering at thresholds where the unknown awaits us.
"The earth is not outside us; it is within: the clay from where the tree of the body grows. When we emerge from our offices, rooms and houses, we enter our natural element....There is something in our clay nature that needs to continually experience this ancient, outer ease of the world. It helps us remember who we are and why we are here."
Our love was born
outside the walls,
in the wind,
in the night,
in the earth,
and that's why the clay and the flower,
the mud and the roots
know your name.
― Pablo Neruda (from "Ode and Burgeonings")
"We do not want merely to see beauty...We want something else which can hardly be put into words -- to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it. That is why we have peopled air and earth and water with gods and goddesses, and nymphs and elves.'' - C.S. Lewis (The Four Loves)
Illustration by Arthur Rackahm (1867-1939)