poetry is a window to finding beauty
To see beauty may or may not be a lost art where you live. Beauty may surround and feed you. It may be something essential and central to your life. The words you hear may encourage and uplift, even empower you. The view from your vantage point may entrance and ennoble. Your clothes may fit perfectly, even luxuriously and your table could be lovely, your relationships strong and your work meaningful. I hope so.
- If such birds fly to your window, acknowledge and thank them.
- Watch the sky. Look for them.
- May they come often.
For beauty to be seen it must also be felt. The rush of its wings heard. Its habits familiar.
Beauty can startle us, catch us off guard, surprise, surprise. But for the main, it’s a welcome visitor, a faithful companion, an accomplice to our appreciation of quiet solace, the softer side of life. Thus, beauty has its effect on us: as our contentment, acceptance, willingness to reconcile and find satisfaction in the moment bears witness.
To know beauty is to testify to its power, its softening and enlightening effect.
As we carry the ineffable within us, make space for beauty and its carrier birds, we find even the shadows another way to reflect on the indispensable role of light in our life. Eventually there is no area of life not somehow diffused with this longing-come-true that we call beauty. We discover a new way of seeing, of being. We become philosophers of the ordinary. In response, others easily enter in, to see what (or, rather, how) we see.
By seeing beauty, we help others see beauty. Beauty grows by being acknowledged as such. If you’ve seen a woman who’s been consistently complimented and admired you know the difference between her and someone who’s lacked those vital words and input.
Noticing makes a difference.
And because a way of seeing is something easily shared, freedom and insight as positive goods in the world work to upend whatever would keep us bound up and blind. Beauty is at the heart of what we love and willingly devote ourselves to: for some the truth is beautiful, for others it appears ugly. But in either case, we tend to move towards what we find beautiful and away from that we do not.
Beauty, however defined, attracts. It is the point where the individual taps into the universal, the concrete reflects the ineffable, the poignant the personal.
These are the birds at the window, alone or in pairs or a whole flock at once murmuring its response to the moment, inviting you and me to imitate this winged vision of what it is to fly free over the world of material commodities and its law of compare and despair. Beauty, to be appreciated, must be free—like a bird. It must be open to all. And, ideally, participated in. Beauty is an invitation to notice the role of light—and its ability to lift our thoughts a little higher.
Abraham Heschel says, “The ineffable inhabits the magnificent and the common, the grandiose and the tiny facts of reality alike… The sense of the ineffable is not an esoteric faculty but an ability with which all men are endowed.” This intangible quality of beauty is as close as I can get to defining the ineffable—the quality of the divine that seeks to infuse our day with reminders that we are loved, cherished and sought out as surely as any stunningly beautiful object or person.
This is why, as a poet, I understand poetry to make no apology for spending its time attempting to render beauty—the sublime—accessible. To translate object into subject. To bring what is flat and two-dimensional into startling, bright relief. To help the reader to see in a way that enhances their vision. To share what the poet sees in a way the reader finds beautiful, compelling and worth pursuing.
Poetry is the window to the birds: beautiful.