Excerpt from Kusamakura by Natsume Soseki. , can draw the sting of troubles from a troubled world and lay in its place a blessed realm before our grateful eyes. Music and sculpture will do likewise. Yet strictly speaking, in fact, there is no need to present this world in art. You have only to conjure the world up before you, and there you will find a living poem, a fount of song. No need to commit your thoughts to paper—the heart will already sing with a sweet inner euphony. No need to stand before your easel and limn with brush and paint—the world’s vast array of forms and colors already sparkles within the inner eye. It is enough simply to be able thus to view the place we live, and to garner with the camera of the sentient heart these pure, limpid images from the midst of our sullied world. And so even if no verse ever emerges from the mute poet, even if the painter never sets brush to canvas, he is happier than the wealthiest of men, happier than any strong-armed emperor or pampered child of this vulgar world of ours—for he can view human life with an artist’s eye; he is released from the world’s illusory sufferings; he is able to come and go at ease in a realm of transcendent purity, to construct a unique universe of art, and thereby to destroy the binding fetters of self-interest and desire.
Yes, a poem, a painting
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