Shards, Sweepings, Stealings, Sayings, Secrets

Month: July, 2010

The Principle Of Beauty

“I have left no immortal work behind me — nothing to make my friends proud of my memory — but I have lov’d the principle of beauty in all things…” John Keats (From a letter to Fanny Brawne written February 1820 in the knowledge that he was mortally ill.) 

Dedham Vale 1802

There’s a delightful short chapter in a book I’m reading at the moment –Geoffrey Murray’s The Gentle Art Of Walking (1939) – about the artist John Constable, who happens to be one of my favourite English painters. Constable sought to find Keats‘s “principle of beauty” in all things, no matter how humble. There was nothing ugly in the world, he declared, that he had ever seen, for, whatever the form of an object, light and shade and perspective could make it beautiful. He once said, “The sound of the water escaping from milldams, etc., willows, old rotten planks, slimy posts and brickwork, I love such things.”


Constable wanted his pictures to be as simple and unaffected as the writings of Hampshire natural historian Gilbert White, whom he admired. The critic William Cosmo Monkhouse said that Constable “was the first to paint the greenness and moisture of his native country… Other painters have made us see Nature at a distance or through a window; he alone has planted our feet in her midst.”

Constable particularly enjoyed painting clouds, and what he called “the natural history of the skies.”

“No two days are alike, nor even two hours: neither were there ever two leaves of a tree alike since the creation of the world.” John Constable

Walking With The Heart

“The difference between a good walker and a bad one is that one walks with his heart, and the other with his feet. As long as the heart is eager and willing, the strain on the body is not very important: and it is only at night, when his long journey is done, that a man’s muscles feel swollen and stiff. This means that no man should go forth as a wanderer unless he is a true lover of Nature; for it is the everchanging scenery that keeps his head light until the end of his day’s walk.” WH Davies The Autobiography Of A Super-tramp

Granite With Cutting Flints

“Wealth I seek not, hope nor love, / Nor a friend to know me; / All I seek, the heaven above / And the road below me.” Robert Louis Stevenson

“For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move; to come down off this feather-bed of civilisation, and find the globe granite underfoot and strewn with cutting flints.” Robert Louis Stevenson

I’ve written out many quotes about walking and travel on this blog, and on my main blog, The Solitary Walker, but this last one by Stevenson is possibly my favourite.

A Song Of The Open Road

“Afoot and lighthearted I take to the open road,

Healthy, free, the world before me,

The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose.

Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good-fortune,

Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing,

Done with indoor complaints, libraries, querulous criticisms,

Strong and content I travel the open road.” Walt Whitman

Vía de la Plata, Spain

What About You?

“People travel to wonder at the height of the mountains,
at the huge waves of the sea,
at the long courses of the rivers,
at the vast compass of the ocean,
at the circular motion of the stars,
and they pass themselves by without wondering at all.” St Augustine

With thanks to Bonnie at www.originalartstudio.blogspot.com

Two Opposing Views On Walking

“So I’ll walk where I will over mountain and hill
And I’ll lie where the bracken is deep
I belong to the mountains, the clear running fountains
Where the grey rocks lie ragged and steep
I’ve seen the white hare in the gullys
And the curlew fly high overhead
And sooner than part from the mountains
I think I would rather be dead.

I’m a rambler, I’m a rambler from Manchester way
I get all me pleasure the hard moorland way
I may be a wageslave on Monday
But I am a free man on Sunday.” Ewan MacColl The Manchester Rambler

“I nauseate walking; ’tis a country diversion. I loathe the country and everything that relates to it.” Spoken by Mrs Millamant in William Congreve‘s The Way Of The World

Sweet Life

“There’s night and day, brother, both sweet things; sun, moon, and stars, brother, all sweet things; there’s likewise a wind on the heath. Life is very sweet, brother; who would wish to die?” George Borrow Lavengro

A Definition Of God

“God is the name by which I designate all things that cross my willful path violently and recklessly, all things which upset my subjective views, plans and intentions, and change the course of my life for better or worse.” Carl Gustav Jung