HANDSOME IS THAT HANDSOME DOES OR A THING OF BEAUTY IS A JOY FOREVER
When Keats wrote the immortal line ‘A Thing of beauty is a joy for ever’ he was himself a burgeoning flower. He had his own poetic fancies far from the realities of the world. Youth has its own conception. A young man has his own world. He enjoys the maiden beauty. Like Byron he thinks of a beautiful girl.
She walks in beauty, like the night Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
He is guided by his physical senses. Like Thomas Bailey he is enamoured by the idea ‘What is love never dies’. He runs after lovely things, beautiful girls, handsome persons. That is the reality for him, howsoever short lived it may be. It enchants him.
But all physical things perish. The eyes that look at handsome things and persons grow feeble and cave in. So does the physical beauty. Keats too sees a fading rose on the cheeks of the handsome knight. All Bordes and Helens meet the same fate. Nature does not spare anyone. If she gives beauty she snatches it too. The rosy cheeks are a cluster of wrinkles as the youth passes.
At one stage Keats too became philosophic when he wrote ‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty’. He was hinting at the beauty of artistic engravings on a Grecian Urn that would never die. The beauty of the Himalayan peaks, the three seas at Kanyakumari, the immortal plays of Kalidas and Shakespeare, the music of Lata, Sehgal, Rafi and Subbalaxmi are enamoured with a perennial beauty that would last forever.
But the apparent beauty enjoyed through our senses has its limitations. That is why Socrates thought that’ Beauty is a short lived reign’. The outward beauty may be deceptive. A beautiful lady may be cruel at heart. An artistic looking cup may have poison in it. The real beauty lies in deeds, in mental and spiritual outlook. Physically a man may be as ugly as Abraham Lincoln was. But his deeds were the most handsome. His declaration about the abolition of slavery was a rare act that cost him his life. But it made him immortal. The beauty of Chanakya lay not in his ugly physique but in his knowledge and statesmanship. Socrates, the pillar of European Philosophy was not a good looking personage. But their deeds and those of saints like Valmiki, Ram Krishna and Vivekanand, of poets like Rabindra, Mahadevi and Bharathi who excelled in grace over all European mystics, of all revolutionaries who forsook all material joys are immortal and most handsome. Death and decay have no claim over them.