Sunday, November 28, 2004

The Finer Things in Life are the Simplest...

With the hustle and bustle of everyday life, most people do not have the time to stop and enjoy the simple yet wonderful things that it has to offer. At least this is what is assumed. Realizing and enjoying the simplest things can untimately make us happier as individuals. But complications seem to be more natural in our lives than simplicity nowadays; people tend to get restless when life is sailing too smoothly. One cannot realize the beauty in nature, or the kindness in a stranger's smile, if one is constantly worrying about his/herself. Introspection is healthy, but not as the only thoughts that one has. Complicating one's own life and failing to see the beauty in simple things, in my oppinion, can lead to serious consequences, such as mental illness. On a smaller scale, however, one limits his/herself and can never truly appreciate life. Ultimately, life is simple and people just complicate it. A poem that I came across that illustrates the beauty in simplicity is called "There is a Garden in her Face" by Thomas Campion. The way this man describes his love interest's face is absolutely beautiful. If only all of us could look at our loved ones in this manner, the divorce rate may not be as high as it is currently. Campion compares this woman's face, such a simple concept, to the beauty of nature. Thus, she is simply and naturally beautiful.


There is a Garden in her face,
Where Roses and white Lillies grow;
A heav'nly paradice is that place,
Wherein all pleasant fruits doe flow.
There Cherries grow, which none may buy
Till Cherry ripe themselves doe cry.

Those Cherries fayrely doe enclose
Of Orient Pearle a double row;
Which when her lovely laughter showes,
They look like Rose-buds fill'd with snow.
Yet them nor Peere nor Prince can buy,
Till Cherry ripe themselues doe cry.

Her Eyes like Angels watch them still;
Her Browes like bended bowes doe stand,
Threatning with piercing frownes to kill
All that attempt with eye or hand
Those sacred Cherries to come nigh,
Till Cherry ripe themselves doe cry.

Campion's comparisons radiate creativity. He paints an elaborate portrait of her face with words. The most obvious comparison is that of her lips to cherries. My favorite illustaration of the woman's teeth when she smiles, "Those Cherries fayrely doe enclose Of Orient Pearle a double row; Which when her lovely laughter showes, They look like Rose-buds fill'd with snow." Lovely. Something as simple and redundant as a smile described with such rarity and grace. Campion seems to appreciate what most would consider every day occurences....and for this his perception and thoughtfulness are superiour.


Blogger whitescarf said...

i strongly agree with you that in order for each one of us to truly understand the meaning of life and to actually feel fulfilled, all of us have to appreciate the simplest things in our lives. we have to enjoy every detail from the fresh feelings in the morning to what we eat. every thing counts, it is us complicate ourlives by not so important matters. each individual should allow his/herself to live life the way it should be lived.

November 28, 2004 at 2:01 PM  
Blogger Roger said...

You are quite right, I think, to find the Campion poem charming. One thing, though, you should know: it is very far from an original invention. Like many poems of its kind, it is a combination of two types: what was called the "blason", a poem about some aspect of the beloved's physical appearance, playing clever variations on an aspect of it (there are blasons on the golden hair, on the lips, the eyes, etc. etc.); and the "catalogue of beauties", where the poet makes a kind of inventory of the beloved's lovely features, usually with what Shakespeare called "compare". And the comparisons, the images, are often conventional: hair like gold thread, lips like cherries, cheeks like lilies, eyes like stars, voice like heavenly music, so on. These poems were particularly popular in the Renaissance, roughly (depending on the country) between 1530 and 1650.
This does not make Campion's any less charming!

November 28, 2004 at 7:15 PM  
Blogger sue_sue said...

How true you are to say that most people do not stop and enjoy life...or to use a cliché, stop and smell the roses. I'm not entirely sure why people go about complicating their lives when all is going smoothly. Somehow we just feel compelled to put more on our plate of life and try to finish all that it on it. I think that it is because we believe that something is missing if we're not running around ripping our hair out or sitting in traffic traveling from one destination to the next. We are no longer programmed to relax or enjoy the happiness that has come into our lives.

The poem that you selected is a good reflection of simplicity and how we can appreciate it. However, like the professor was saying, the images that Campion uses are a bit overused. The use of images such as: lilies, heavens, cherries and roses have been used to death! I think that in our our generation and those after us...poets need to strive to find other modes of expressing simple beauty.


November 30, 2004 at 2:52 PM  
Blogger Joey-jo-jo said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

November 30, 2004 at 3:16 PM  
Blogger Dr J said...

I agree, it's a charming poem-- lush, supple, and direct-- and a personal favourite of mine. More than the woman being beautiful, though, her face is Paradise, or a vision of it, idyllic, tranquil, alive. RK's right that poems of the time used a lot of these same tropes, but this poem seems to create a synergistic effect that a lot of other poems do not. I can't put my finger quite on it as I write this, except perhaps that Campion develops the tropes as clusters of imagery that are all directly associated with one another. It seems there's a pattern to the images themselves that resides beneath the poem's primary pattern. Vague? Yeah, probably. But it's Friday evening and my brain's not at its best. Something to think about, though?

Glad to see you found Campion. He really is very good sometimes.

December 3, 2004 at 6:05 PM  
Blogger Maya B said...

Hey Tania,

This comment is unrealated to our poetry course what so ever. I really need to talk to you about our take home exam for Music and Society, you got my e-mail address but I didn't get yours. So please e-mail me or call me because I could really use someone to discuss some unclear issues. Thanks so much


December 8, 2004 at 6:43 PM  
Blogger Roger said...

In answer to Dr J on Campion -- I think perhaps this poem is particularly satisfying (compared to some of the others using the same tropes) because it was written as a song, and so (like John Hayward's ending to The Waste Land) constantly revises toward simplicity and melodiousness.

January 1, 2005 at 10:37 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home