Sonnet 79 by Edmund Spencer
Men call you fair, and you do credit it,
For that yourself you daily such do see:
But the true fair, that is the gentle wit
And virtuous mind, is much more praised of me.
For all the rest, however fair it be,
Shall turn to naught and lose that glorious hue:
But only that is permanent and free
From frail corruption that doth flesh ensue,
That is true beauty; that doth argue you
To be divine and born of heavenly seed;
Derived from that fair spirit, from whom all true
And perfect beauty did at first proceed:
He only fair, and what he fair hath made:
All other fair, like flowers, untimely fade.
Have you ever known someone whose “gentle wit and virtuous mind” caught your attention, captivated your mind and softened your heart? This bewitching combination is a beauty like no other, for it does not tarnish with the passage of time.
Aesthetic beauty is delightful to behold, but the heart is nourished more by words fitly spoken than by perfect nails, the latest hair style or the finest couture. I venture to say that were a fraction of the time, energy, emotional capital and detailed concern applied to cultivating inner beauty rather than outer beauty, the world would be an infinitely better place.
This applies to men and women. Men for the most part tend in their not caring about appearance to adopt the “local uniform” for men in their neck of the woods. Despite their nonchalance about it all, they care sufficiently deeply to take the steps necessary so as not to stand out amongst the crowd, but again, what of inner beauty, those qualities of gentle wit and virtuous mind that give even the least fair of men a handsome, refined, if not attractive appeal.
I’ve considered the means by which any man or woman can cultivate these inner qualities in a number of previous posts and I often wonder to what degree my dear readers take them to heart and subsequently find opportunity to give expression to them through their immediate circumstances. It’s one thing to be inspired; it is quite another to be an inspiration.
Take time this week to cultivate your gentle wit and virtuous mind. Start by releasing the coarser elements in your expression, such as vulgarity, abrasive attitudes and offensive gestures. Listen to the world around you. Look deliberately for inspiration in the world around you. Release the habitual reactions to that which offends your sensibilities and focus instead on that which merits your attention and is worthy of recognition or even magnification through you.
Photo by Gabriel Brandt on Unsplash.