When we ventured into the heart of the hills in the Lake District that I understood for the very first time what Wordsworth had really meant or implied in his Ode to Immortality. Why he had seen God in Nature, why he had felt that there was something beyond the surface of things and that God or the universal spirit shone through Nature; why Keats had written 'Beauty is truth and truth, beauty, that is all ye know and all ye need to know', why Shelley had implored the Westwind to inspire him, why Coleridge could conjure up a Christobel and a magical atmosphere in the dark woods.
If you could ever see, and feel, and drink in the sheer beauty of this place, you too would believe that it would change you, it would affect your very soul. Just to imagine that these great masters lived here for long periods of time, and walked by that shimmering water, and trod on that soft grass and brushed by those lacy leaves, and sun-kissed flowers every day, is incredible. The beauty of this place is almost 'painful' at times; and I, to my utter amazement, found tears in my eyes. I had never known that there could be so many shades of green, so many shades of blue and so many hues of brown and gold. The days I spent there, were days in paradise. Blue skies with little puffy white clouds, floating, casting their shadows on the clear blue waters of the lakes, a bright golden sun, and a deliciously cool breeze. If there is a Paradise, this is where I have come closest to it.
My aunt's friend, who drove us there and has traveled around the world and come here several times, said that she had seen much countryside in many parts of the world, including in India and USA, but in her opinion, the wondrous beauty of the Lake District is unsurpassed. There is some strange power in this place. We climbed up a hill through the woods and by a small stream, I reached the top first, and stood behind a copse of trees, from that height, I could see the whole countryside around, spread like a rich oriental carpet all around. It was all so breathtakingly beautiful! it cant be described and it cannot even be absorbed from photographs, however professionally taken.
That moment, I did not want to go back. I did not want to go back to people, to THINGS. I realized in that moment what was meant by, the futility of art, the futility of material pleasures, of the material existence, why some people become hermits, why nature is worshipped, why they say that 'the best things in life are free', why they say that a power called God exists. There is no art in the world that can match the perfection of nature, the beauty of nature is incomparable, full stop.
There are various climatic, locational and incidental factors, not to mention that England has the money and resources to maintain this place, which has made the Lake Districts one the worlds hottest tourist spots. But the point is that IT IS WHAT IT IS! And it is not man-made paradise, it is natural. I may have to leave this country, but I have left my heart behind. If one can fall in love with a place, I think I have.
[This is a guest post. The author, Madhurima Gupta, who was a student of English Literature in Jadavpur University, is now working as a successful animator. These are excerpts from email and letter which she wrote during her visit to England.]