Folks: let’s forget what just happened here in the UK. Here’s a post I prepared earlier.
Great art is not necessarily beautiful although a tortured argument may be advanced to say this must be the case. But just think: The Scream is not beautiful, nor is Crime and Punishment, nor Pound's A Pact, nor Grosse Fuge. All are arguably great.
This point presently exercises me, blotting out other graver matters. Beauty is, of course, subjective but we must start somewhere and today I'm in charge. Let’s consider great art that is beautiful.
Take painting: Hogarth is famous for somewhat unbeautiful satirical drawings but how about his Shrimp Girl (below)?
As to prose here’s the ending of Joyce's short story, The Dead.
(Snow) was falling, too, upon every part of the lonely churchyard on the hill where Michael Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.
Poetry? These lines are from Thomas's Over St John's Hill.
Of the led-astray birds whom God, for their breast of whistles,
Have Mercy on,
God in his whirlwind silence save, who marks the sparrows hail,
For their souls' song.
Music? Schubert's Abschied, sung by Christian Gerhaher
CLICK HERE (Wait out all the long silences.)
No doubt you’ve rumbled me. Yes, this is a conspiracy – albeit truthful - to edge you towards the Schubert. But then Abschied offers a bonus; you can sing it badly (to yourself) and it remains beautiful. I know, from personal experience. Abschied’s great too but that’s up to others.