Friday, August 31, 2012

Must I be a pre-Raphaelite beauty?

"Windflowers" by John William Waterhouse
As I wandered through my small abode this morning on my way to the coffee pot, I remembered a certain section of poetry by Fleur Adcock. Specifically, I recalled a line that reads:
"But now that I am in love with a place
that doesn’t care how I look and if I am happy,
happy is how I look..."

I don't think she's talking about a place outside as much as she is writing about a place maybe that she has reached inside herself. She writes in her unique, witty way as if looking past the vain things she once thought, especially in the area of beauty. Beauty is a tough subject for women. As one friend reminded me over the weekend, most of us only ever look in the mirror to critique ourselves. So as you do look in the mirror over the next few days, I hope you'll consider these verses: Psalm 139:14, 1 Samuel 16:7, Proverbs 31:3, 1 Peter 3:3-4, 1 Timothy 4:8 - and maybe even tell your reflection positive words it is needing and perhaps longing to hear. I will post a practical exercise soon that may help. :)

My face catches the wind
from the snow line
and flushes with a flush
that will never wholly settle.

Well, that was a metropolitan vanity,
wanting to look young forever, to pass.
I was never a pre-Raphaelite beauty
and only pretty enough to be seen
with a man who wanted to be seen
with a passable woman.

But now that I am in love
with a place that doesn’t care
how I look and if I am happy,
happy is how I look and that’s all.

My hair will grow grey in any case,
my nails chip and flake,
my waist thicken, and the years
work all their usual changes.

If my face is to be weather beaten as well,
it’s little enough lost
for a year among the lakes and vales
where simply to look out my window
at the high pass
makes me indifferent to mirrors
and to what my soul may wear
over its new complexion.

–Fleur Adcock

Kareen Fleur Adcock, known as Fleur Adcock; CNZM, OBE (born 10 February 1934 in New Zealand) is a poet and an editor of English and Northern Irish ancestry, who has lived much of her life in England.

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