Life in its jewel boxes, is endless as the sand…

I made this image in India through the tour bus window as we were passing by a beach scene one afternoon. It was a dreary day and truly the only time I recall the weather being so bleak. Most days were filled with enormous amounts of sunshine and warmth (or perhaps that is my sheer affection for India drawing in and coloring my memory). As we drove by, I saw this young boy sitting on a log, watching his friends play in the distance. The scene evoked a deep aesthetic response in me and reminded me of one of my favorite paintings by Friedrich, The Monk by the Sea, which I proudly have a version of hanging in my apartment.  In this painting, a monk is seen standing on the shoreline before the preponderant sea and sky that stretch across the composition. The image moves me immensely as it lends to the ancient idea of the sublime, which is a notion that the beauty of nature can be captured in such a way that is awe-inspiring to the viewer. In works of art that exhibit this wonderful notion, the vastness and power of nature looms over the apparent “smallness’ of man.  This evokes a contemplative response as we are forced to remember the immensity of the world that surrounds us and how microscopic (as the figure in the painting literally is) we in fact are within the world.  Below you will find my photograph from India, a poem from Pablo Neruda, and an image of Friedrich’s ever so important painting. I hope you enjoy and get home safe from work on this Tuesday eve. 

I want to tell you the ocean knows this, that life in its
jewel boxes
is endless as the sand, impossible to count, pure,
and among the blood-colored grapes time has made the
hard and shiny, made the jellyfish full of light
and untied its knot, letting its musical threads fall
from a horn of plenty made of infinite mother-of-pearl.

I am nothing but the empty net which has gone on ahead
of human eyes, dead in those darknesses,
of fingers accustomed to the triangle, longitudes
on the timid globe of an orange.

I walked around as you do, investigating
the endless star,
and in my net, during the night, I woke up naked,
the only thing caught, a fish trapped inside the wind.

(excerpt from Pablo Neruda’s, Enigmas, as translated by Robert Bly)

Casper David Friedrich, Monk by the Sea, 1808-1810


  1. Pingback: Two parts: finding the sublime in Nepal & van Gogh’s quest | love, laugh, be light

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