Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Led by a Photograph


Yes, this is the photograph. The photograph that led me to an interesting and beautiful discovery.

I first came across this photograph a few years ago on some website but didn't really bother to read anything on that page and was simply mesmerized by the picture itself. Or perhaps at some level I was also somewhat aware of what this picture seemed to be doing to me -- inviting almost to just experience it on some level. There was something so genuine, so tender, so sweetly real about this picture, at least to me...so I just downloaded it and saved it on my computer in my already-brimming folder of inspiring photographs I find on the web. 

Every few days I would simply open this file and take in the beauty of this picture for a few minutes...not at all trying with my mind to decipher what was going on in this image. I would just simply look at it...merely to enjoy it, if you will. During a few fleeting moments however, the photograph did reveal some meaning or message, and in fact on a couple of occasions I even used that "meaning-laden" version of this picture as part of my presentations or classes for my teaching work. But for the most part, I simply enjoyed the beauty and gentleness of whatever feeling or emotion this picture was trying to represent or perhaps even create for me at that moment in time.

I didn't have any curiosity to know anything about this picture, where it came from, what was it about, who was the photographer, nothing...just that this picture existed was enough. 

Until today....

Today I finally used the trusty Google Image search engine and was delighted to find that this picture is actually a shot from a 2009 film based on the letters written by the great English poet, John Keats to his beloved, Fanny Brawne during the last three years of his very short 25-year-long life. Don't really know why I got curious today, but I did. And of course, I am now quite curious to watch this film, titled after one of Keats' poems, Bright Star! But what I find so gratifying right now is that the picture I have enjoyed for last several years without knowing anything about it actually does have such wonderful context around it. Joy of spontaneous discovery, I suppose!

I wonder however, if after watching the film, and particularly the sequence where this particular shot appears, the photograph will still continue to retain that unspoken mysterious appeal for me as it did until today. Maybe I will come to the conclusion that perhaps sometimes we don't really need to know! But who knows, maybe I will find the photograph even more beautiful after I watch the film. Maybe John Keats did say it right when he said - "A thing of beauty is a joy for ever". But speaking very humbly, I am now also quite curious to see if he was indeed right about this :) 

I can see that a sequel to this post might be on the cards soon!

A Thing of Beauty (Endymion)


A thing of beauty is a joy for ever: 
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. 
Therefore, on every morrow, are we wreathing 
A flowery band to bind us to the earth, 
Spite of despondence, of the inhuman dearth 
Of noble natures, of the gloomy days, 
Of all the unhealthy and o'er-darkened ways 
Made for our searching: yes, in spite of all, 
Some shape of beauty moves away the pall 
From our dark spirits. Such the sun, the moon, 
Trees old and young, sprouting a shady boon 
For simple sheep; and such are daffodils 
With the green world they live in; and clear rills 
That for themselves a cooling covert make 
'Gainst the hot season; the mid-forest brake, 
Rich with a sprinkling of fair musk-rose blooms: 
And such too is the grandeur of the dooms 
We have imagined for the mighty dead; 
An endless fountain of immortal drink, 
Pouring unto us from the heaven's brink. 

~ John Keats


Postscript: The sequel to this post did come about after watching the film. You may read it here.