John Keats admired beauty. Otherwise he could not have written the poem ‘La Belle Dame sans Merci’. The poem narrates the story of a knight in the middle ages who met a beautiful woman in some wilderness. She, the beauty, allowed him to take her on his horseback to some places as he wished until finally she took him to her cave and lulled him to sleep. When the knight woke up, the beauty had disappeared. He went in search of that beauty all over the valley. Keats’ poem ends with the statement that the knight is still searching for the beautiful woman in that valley years and years after she deserted him. You would think he was a ghost in case you met him there in that valley.
Seekers of beauty became ghosts in Keats’ era (early 19th century)
But Keats belonged to an era when people, at least some people, quested after truth which they thought was beauty. “Beauty is truth and truth beauty.” Didn’t Keats write that too? And you don’t need to know anything more than that, Keats said that too. How idealistic! No wonder the guy died at the age of 26, in poverty. Anyone who equates truth with beauty cannot live long. Should not, in fact. How can we, the pragmatic people, bother to care for truth which is equal to beauty and beauty which is equal to truth?
That’s why our own Gabriel Marquez, who died a few days back at the age of 87 having relished the luxury of life, wrote the short story ‘Sleeping beauty and the airplane.’ In that story, the narrator feels he is lucky to have a beautiful woman on a seat next to his in the New York-bound airplane. But the woman falls asleep as soon as the flight takes off. The narrator is left to admiring the sleeping beauty until the end of the flight. His indirect efforts to wake her up are all in vain. At the end of the flight, the beauty “disappeared into the sun of today in the Amazon jungle of New York.”
Beauty lies in the Amazon jungle of New York. We, Indians, will soon have the Amazon jungle of New York coming to India too. Our economy is poised for a revolutionary rejuvenation. The Amazon jungle of New York coming to the starving millions of India’s wilderness is going to be a new miracle of 21st century. The revolution has begun today, 26 May 2014. A new Beauty is going to be born in India. You and I will be Keats’ knight in the wilderness or Marquez’s admirer in the airplane. There is no other choice, I think. Marquez is a better option, of course: let the beauty sleep and let us make money writing stories about her instead of letting her bewitch us.