ILLUMINATION
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ILLUMINATION

Is The Mystic’s Bliss A Flower In The Sky?

Photo by Anuj Yadav on Pexels

I have experienced memorable ecstasy from viewing or contemplating the sublime forms of nature and reading sublime poetry. They are an inexhaustible source of inspiration and aesthetic delight.

A.C.Bradley, the literary critic, lists some examples of sublimity. “The vault of heaven, one expanse of blue, or dark and studded with countless and prodigiously distant stars; the sea that stretches to the horizon and beyond it, a surface smooth as glass or breaking into innumerable waves; time, to which we can imagine no beginning and no end, — these furnish favourite examples of sublimity, and to call them great seems almost mockery, for they are images of immeasurable magnitude.”

Again, in the words of A.C.Bradley:

“It is not in the quality alone, but in the quantity of the quality, that the sublimity lies.”

Sublimity is the loftiest form of beauty in nature and life.

To be sublime, a thing or quality is required invariably to be of unmeasured or unmeasurable quantity, size, or strength. A huge ancient tree, a lion, an eerie silence, a mother’s love for her child, the vast darkness, the starry sky, and so on are sublime and evoke joy in our minds when we sense them deeply.

Open your poetic heart and mind and immerse yourself into the sublime parts of nature and sublime poetry and feel a pure aesthetic delight. Contemplate the sublime thing or quality of human nature and your mind will unburden its memory load to experience a fresh momentary bliss. It may be the mystical bliss.

We feel awe or powerless when we enjoy the sublimity of something or some extraordinary quality of human nature like a mother’s love for her child or a citizen’s patriotism,

Words fall short to express the overwhelming ecstasy I enjoy whenever I read-and re-read-the sublime ode by Shelley-

To A Skylark

Hail to thee, blithe Spirit!
Bird thou never wert,
That from heaven, or near it,
Pourest thy full heart
In profuse strains of unpremeditated art.

Higher still and higher
From the earth thou springest
Like a cloud of fire;
The blue deep thou wingest,
And singing still dost soar, and soaring ever singest.

In the golden lightning
Of the sunken sun,
O’er which clouds are bright’ning,
Thou dost float and run,
Like an unbodied joy whose race is just begun.

The pale purple even
Melts around thy flight;
Like a star of heaven
In the broad daylight
Thou art unseen, but yet I hear thy shrill delight,

Keen as are the arrows
Of that silver sphere
Whose intense lamp narrows
In the white dawn clear
Until we hardly see — we feel that it is there.

All the earth and air
With thy voice is loud,
As, when night is bare,
From one lonely cloud
The moon rains out her beams, and heaven is overflowed.

What thou art we know not;
What is most like thee?
From rainbow clouds there flow not
Drops so bright to see
As from thy presence showers a rain of melody.

Like a poet hidden
In the light of thought,
Singing hymns unbidden,
Till the world is wrought
To sympathy with hopes and fears it heeded not:

Like a high-born maiden
In a palace tower,
Soothing her love-laden
Soul in secret hour
With music sweet as love, which overflows her bower:

Like a glow-worm golden
In a dell of dew,
Scattering unbeholden
Its aerial hue
Among the flowers and grass, which screen it from the view:

Like a rose embowered
In its own green leaves,
By warm winds deflowered,
Till the scent it gives
Makes faint with too much sweet these heavy-winged thieves:

Sound of vernal showers On the twinkling grass,
Rain-awakened flowers,
All that ever was
Joyous, and clear, and fresh, thy music doth surpass.

Teach us, sprite or bird,
What sweet thoughts are thine:
I have never heard
Praise of love or wine
That panted forth a flood of rapture so divine.

Chorus hymeneal
Or triumphal chant
Matched with thine would be all
But an empty vaunt,
A thing wherein we feel there is some hidden want.

What objects are the fountains
Of thy happy strain?
What fields, or waves, or mountains?
What shapes of sky or plain?
What love of thine own kind? what ignorance of pain?

With thy clear keen joyance
Languor cannot be:
Shadow of annoyance
Never came near thee:
Thou lovest, but ne’er knew love’s sad satiety.

Waking or asleep,
Thou of death must deem
Things more true and deep
Than we mortals dream,
Or how could thy notes flow in such a crystal stream?

We look before and after,
And pine for what is not:
Our sincerest laughter
With some pain is fraught;
Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought.

Yet if we could scorn
Hate, and pride, and fear;
If we were things born
Not to shed a tear,
I know not how thy joy we ever should come near.

Better than all measures
Of delightful sound,
Better than all treasures
That in books are found,
Thy skill to poet were, thou scorner of the ground!

Teach me half the gladness
That thy brain must know,
Such harmonious madness
From my lips would flow
The world should listen then, as I am listening now!

Human beings ceaselessly search for endless happiness that is ever elusive. Happiness and sorrow are two indivisible faces of life.

The skylark lives a natural life. It does not save its food for the future. It takes from the earth what it needs now. It loves and lives with its group. Its home is the planet earth which it shares with us, other birds, and animals. The poet longs for the singing and flying bird’s perfect freedom and ‘harmonious madness’ of perennial joy and asks it to reveal its mystery. The poet laments that human happiness is in no way equal to the skylark’s happiness.

The ode contains many life insights and stupendous allusions creating rich images and similes. It is a passionate song addressed to the skylark, the ethereal spirit to the poet. To every reader, the poem means a different thing and delights him differently, simultaneously retaining its poetic essence and message.

The sublime ode reminds us of our humble, transient, and mundane life in comparison with that of the bird.

I have enjoyed the same rapture when reading a great novel like The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck and part of the earth lyric by Archibald Lampman titled April In The Hills reproduced here below:

“……………………….

I feel the tumult of

new birth;

I waken with the

wakening

earth;

I match the

bluebird in

her mirth;

And wild with

wind and

sun,

A treasurer of immortal days,

I roam the glorious

world with praise,

The hillsides and the

woodland ways,

Till earth and I are one.”

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Bheemaray.K. Janagond

Writer on rational and humanist outlook on life and personal improvement