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Lynette Abel


Aesthetic Realism Class Report 

Part 3, conclusion

Mr. Siegel went to two other surprising instances showing the relation of joy and sadness, liveliness and dreariness on the subject of health.   He read Juno's line about Captain Boyle: "He wore out the health insurance long ago" and related this to the use of the word "health" in the beginning lines of the poem "Endymion" by the 19th century English poet John Keats.   "The relation of beauty to health interests Aesthetic Realism very much," said Mr. Siegel.   "Sometimes words are used very notably   this is one example.”   These lines of "Endymion" are some of the most unabashedly hopeful lines in English:

A thing of beauty is a joy for ever:
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.
Therefore, on every morrow, are we wreathing
A flowery band to bind us to the earth,
Spite of despondence, of the inhuman dearth
Of noble natures,…
Commented Mr. Siegel "The feeling is that beauty is seen as the same as health.  The implication here is that beauty composes things.”  Of the line "A flowery band to bind us to the earth," Mr. Siegel explained, "Because beauty can be seen, we want to stay on this earth.   That goes along with Aesthetic Realism,
that the only good sense in the world is aesthetics.   It's the only thing that takes the tragedy and comedy of life, its ridiculousness and its tearfulness [and composes them]”

     Mr. Siegel concluded this class by reading something seemingly so different, from Harriet Martineau's book History of the Peace: Being a History of England from 1816 1854, saying it has sentences that should be known.   He read Miss Martineau's account of the death of William Pitt at age 47, ”because it is a vivid dealing with the most unliked subject in the world.   It is all preliminary to the matter to be seen in O'Casey's play: the oneness of tragedy and comedy."   William Pitt, who was Prime Minister of England, from 1783 to 1801, Mr. Siegel explained, "had a very deep, difficult time trying to discipline, imprison …and check the people in England who were for the French Revolution.”   Harriet Martineau writes of Pitt's response upon hearing of Napoleon's victory at Austerlitz.   Though Pitt was wrong in how he saw Napoleon, I was moved by what Mr. Siegel read, with such great feeling: Pitt's statement as he heard the news about Napoleon's victory: "'Roll up the map of Europe,' said the heart broken statesman, in the first moment of his anguish."   "That" Mr. Siegel said "is a poetic phrase of disappointment."   He explained: "The uncertainties of the war and his ethical misgiving" about some of the stands he took politically, weakened Pitt.  Miss Martineau writes:

When brought back to Putney, he could only sit in his easy
chair, neither reading, nor speaking, nor being spoken to,
purely on account of bodily weakness; and what a mass of
painful thoughts was heaving within! He died, early in the
morning of the next day.
"[Poetry],” Mr. Siegel said in conclusion, “is always  sometimes directly, sometimes indirectly—trying to present the fact that the world when disappointing, the world when jaunty and very much in motion and alive, is that world, the world…. The play of O'Casey says all reality should be seen, and poetry has always said the only way to like reality is to hope to see all of it.”

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