148: To Make the Flowers Visible

In earlier posts, I have often commented on the pleasure which descends when, out of the blue, you come across some previously unknown but stunning passage in Ruskin’s works, sentences which light up your day, or deepen your soul. Here’s an example, found not long ago in the first volume of The Stones of Venice (1851): 

This infinite universe is unfathomable, inconceivable, in its whole. [As a result,] every human creature must slowly spell out, and long contemplate, such part of it as may be possible for him to reach, and then set forth what he has learned of it for [others to learn or enjoy], extracting it from infinity, as one gathers a violet out of grass. One does not improve either violet or grass in gathering it but one makes the flower visible. And then the human being has to make its power on his own heart visible, and give it the honor of the good thoughts it has raised up in him…

And sometimes he may be able to do more than this, and set [his insight] in strange lights, and display it in a thousand ways before unknown… [O]ut of the infinity of the written word, he has to gather and set forth things new and old, to choose them for the season and the work that are before him, [so that he can] explain and manifest them to others, with such illustration and enforcement as may be in his power, and crown them with the history of what, by them, God has done for his soul.

A nearly perfect description, this–or so it seems to me–of the task and choices before us all.

Rhododendrons

Rhododendrons, in our yard, just a few moments ago!

Until next time!

I do hope you are very well out there in the passing springtime!

🙂

Jim

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3 Responses to 148: To Make the Flowers Visible

  1. David Brooks says:

    Very nice work. Thank you.

  2. robccowan says:

    How lovely Jim. Quite made my day! – especially ‘One does not improve either violet or grass in gathering it, but one makes the flower visible. And then, the human being has to make its power on his own heart visible, and give it the honour of the good thoughts it has raised up in him.’ Hope you’re thriving. Very best. Rob

  3. Arjun Jain says:

    Very, very beautiful, that first paragraph of Ruskin’s. ‘One does not improve either violet or grass in gathering it, but one makes the flower visible.’ Thank you.

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