Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Old Truths

It is not growing like a tree
In bulk, doth make man better be;
Or standing long an oak, three hundred year,
To fall a log at last, dry, bald and sere;
A lily of a day
Is fairer far in May,
Although it fall and die that night;
It was the plant and flower of Light.
In small proportions we just beauties see;
And in short measures life may perfect be.

I was listening to the radio today, to an item about the proliferation in the use of steroids by young men and the harmful side-effects they cause. The issue of people’s dissatisfaction with what is normal and natural again; how long has the discussion on the links between the role-models in fashion and eating disorders in young women been going on? Surely it is time to demand greater responsibility from the image-makers.
The poem prompts a second thought. A time of wall to wall, ‘crash bang wallop’ entertainments is unlikely to be the time of greatest happiness: every aspect of normal life diminished in scale by digital/celluloid constructs. I wonder to what extent we have lost the ability to recognize the quieter, more subtle beauties nature puts in our way.

 It may be couched in old-fashioned terms, but Ben Jonson’s poem seems as relevant as ever. 

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