|Mervyn Peak, study for Glassblowers|
I certainly have encountered this in fiction. Mervyn Peake bodies it forth, along with much that is beautiful, much that is puerile, much that is unfair. Those of us who do put beauty at the heart may not make terribly good advertisements for the beautiful life. We tend to screw up and to swerve off into the weeds.
An unsatisfactory welter of catch-phrases rises around me. Keats saying that truth is beauty: that's always irritated me. Truth is truth, beauty is beauty, what do they have to do with each other? Accuracy is beauty, maybe, or necessary to beauty, but that's different. The smudginess characteristic of people Trying To Be Artistic is maybe the Beautiful's version of original sin. You can smudge your way to Pretty, but not to Beautiful.
Begin when all the rest had left behind themIt is not accident, I am quite sure, that my first real hints of literary beauty came obliquely, in translation. You prepare yourself in the right ways, when you're picking up a translation. You know it's not the real thing, that you're going to have to open your eyes a little wider, that you're trying to see around a corner. (You always were able to see around corners, a friend said to me, the most flattering thing anyone has ever said to me. But I digress, unless I don't.)
Headlong death in battle or at sea.
I vowed that I would dedicate my powersWell, no, not really. But I haven't forgotten it, either. I guess that will have to do.
To thee and thine. Have I not kept the vow?