A thing of beauty is a joy forever,” butBeauty lies in the eyes of the beholder.”

The two aforementioned lines are very famous ones in the English language.  The former is a line from a poem of the famous poet John Keats.  The latter is a common English cliché.  I have no idea what exactly Keats meant by his words or the poem which contained the words.  However, I have come to comprehend the two lines as one expression regarding what I have learnt from some experiences.  I shall give explanations here, but there will be no examples given for they are quite personal.

My mother often talks about “life” regarding as “an incredible equation which balances itself”.  She says we have no control or impact whatsoever over it, and yet we can survive and thrive by acting suitably and flexibly to the time and circumstance of any given situation according to Charles Darwin’s principle of “Survival of the Fittest”.  I quite agree with her.  And what I mean to state here is that life is full of “Give and Take”.  You always need to make a certain investment to gain something – nobody gets anything for free.

I believe (so far) that the greatest and most enduring joy one can ever experience is the satisfaction he gets by knowing and being appreciated that he has done a good deed to improve the life of another.  Such pleasure lingers in my heart and memory.  Reputedly, the greatest thing an individual can do for another is not to give but to let him discover himself and his true potentials.  I think that the phrase “a thing of beauty” in Keats’ line means precisely this – the best deed one can ever do for another or any other great good deed one does for another.  It can, thus, be implied…

“The satisfaction one gets by doing a great good deed for another can be enjoyed by both the deliverer and the receiver for a lifetime.”

A thing of beauty... lies in the eyes of the beholder.

A thing of beauty... lies in the eyes of the beholder.

However, there are certain circumstances under which there can be pain instead of joy when “beauty” is misjudged wrongly.  This judgement is what I understand by “the eyes of the beholder” relating to Keats’ words; it is how the receiver of the deed sees things.  A virtue well delivered could become in vain if it is not well received or taken incorrectly.  What if the given materiel is what the receiver wants or needs?  What if he sees the thing that comes to him negatively and does not make good use of it? Undesirable consequences could occur in the relationship between the deliverer and the receiver.  One party could be misunderstood by the other.  The one who gives could have regrets for a well intended cause.  Or worse things may be on the way.

Should the deliverer have a heart big enough to forgive and go on in life, he could still escape from the pain, sorrow and sufferings caused.  After all, there is something Alexander Pope wrote which reads,

“To err is human,

To forgive is divine.”

This is what I see beauty as.  How do you?