A Thing of Beauty

Daffodils.John Keats says that “a thing of beauty is a joy forever.” The line has always stuck with me. It’s one of those lines that one hears again and again from class to class. I’ve always wondered, though, what constitutes a thing of beauty?

I can’t say that Keats’ poem answers my question. He speaks of daffodils and the moon and even the “mighty dead,” but he approaches those things with the Romantic mindset. All those things are beautiful and grand and glorious.

Since I rarely – if ever – write about daffodils or the “mighty dead,” I don’t necessarily consider those things as being things of beauty. Yes, they are beautiful, but they aren’t the things that “always must be with us, or we die.” My things of beauty either are ordinary things or seemingly ugly things.

Those things probably reach their fullest potential in my poetry; however, the impetus to find beauty in the ordinary or ugly often fuels the writing found on this blog. It’s one of the reasons I talk about the struggles of being both a creative person and a perfectionist. I find a beauty in that struggle. It fascinates me. I like to poke and prod it. I enjoy wandering around the subject and considering it from different angles. I watch the conflict transpire between the two mindsets and am transfixed by it. I experience the tension found in trying to write about the struggle, and, sometimes, that tension produces a new thing of beauty, a thing I can both call my own and share with others.


  1. Ah Erin, your comment of seeing things of beauty in the ordinary or “seemingly ugly” is wabi-sabi ( see c2.com/cgi/wiki?WabiSabi ) You’ll like the link, I think…it’s for Artists, Designers, Poets and Philosophers.
    And in the lines of a Leonard Cohen song:
    “Ring the bells that still can ring
    Forget your perfect offering
    There’s a crack in everything
    That’s how the light gets in.
    To see beauty in the ordinary or the less-than-perfect…wabi-sabi. Cheers! Kaarina

    •  @KDillabough Oh, Kaarina, Cohen’s words are words for the soul. Thank you for sharing them with me. I love the concept of wabi-sabi. I think I’ll have to study it some more.

      •  @Erin F. There’s a lovely children’s book that I bought for my adult brother (who’s an author – his book “Curtains” was listed top ten non-fiction books in Canada), and he loved it. You can see it on Amazon at Wabi-Sabi-Mark-Reibstein/dp/0316118257There are also beautiful examples of wabi-sabi photography that you can find through search. Enjoy!