Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #82: Literary Capitals

This week, our guest host Viveka of My Guilty Pleasures. has chosen the theme of “capitals” for our Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #82.  Perfect, Viveka!

As many of you know, I love exploring cities.  They energize and inspire me.  I will always be thrilled when I turn a corner and find a new vista, a new landscape spread out before me.  While I’m in these great urban centers, I often think of the writers who set their stories in these cities and/or drew inspiration from them.  So, it’s with great pleasure that I present a literary tour of some memorable capital cities.

Dublin, Ireland

Morality is simply the attitude we adopt towards people whom we personally dislike.~Oscar Wilde

Dublin is a city where the past intrudes on the present.  In St. Patrick’s Cathedral, I was fascinated by its dual Catholic and Protestant past, as well as the reminders of the intertwined histories of the British and the Irish people.

This photo captures a section of the Boyle Family Monument, commissioned by Richard Boyle, 1st Earl of Cork (13 October 1566 – 15 September 1643).  He was an English-born politician who served as Lord Treasurer of the Kingdom of Ireland, ruled by Great Britain from 1542 to 1800.  The troubled relationship between these two countries continues to the present day.

While in Ireland, I learned about the exodus of their creative Irish artists, like Jonathan Swift and Oscar Wilde, who left their home country for economic reasons and spent a good portion of their lives in the U.K.   Wilde achieved fame and notoriety in London as a poet and playwright, but he was arrested and found guilty of the charge of gross indecency with men.  After two more trials he was sentenced to the maximum penalty of two years of hard labor.  He died not long after his release in 1897.

Lisbon, Portugal

By day Lisbon has a naive theatrical quality that enchants and captivates, but by night it is a fairy-tale city, descending over lighted terraces to the sea, like a woman in festive garments going down to meet her dark lover.― Erich Maria Remarque, The Night in Lisbon

I didn’t expect to be charmed by Lisbon, a city that endured decades of an oppressive fascist government.  But all that changed, when I experienced the city–its pure, bright light, its streets sweeping down to the sea, its classical architecture, and its proud culinary and artistic heritage.

Here, a few people are walking across the Praça do Comércio, a beautiful palace complex built for King Manuel I.  Because of its proximity to the Tagus River, a fine mist often settles over the square with its brightly painted yellow buildings.

London, UK

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”
Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

Running in Kensington Gardens, London

When we were in London, I decided to re-read A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, set in London and Paris during the French Revolution.  As I was reading his description of these turbulent times, the British were in the midst of their own wrenching debate over whether to leave the European Union.   Still, in places like Kensington Gardens, time seemed to stand still.

Suva, Fiji

We remember you from a distant shore:

Across the seas you crossed is our flight-

A severed kite falling in a starry night

Breaking hearts for music heard no more.~ Satendra Nandan

My next capital city may surprise you.  It’s definitely not urban.  But in fact, this shot was taken on the island nation of Fiji, not far from the capital of Suva.

It’s hard to dispute the Fijian people’s claim that they live in paradise.  The country is largely unspoiled and stunningly beautiful.  Fiji still has a tribal society with a strong sense of history and community.   Their literature is traditionally communicated through songs and stories.  Their written literature began after their country’s independence in 1970.

The modern world has started to intrude in this island paradise with increased tourism and economic pressures.  As a result, the people’s diets are changing, and “Western” public health issues like diabetes and obesity are on the rise. The writer and poet Satendra Nandan expresses this sense of unease and dislocation from the past in his poetry.  I wonder if the Fijian people will be able to find a happier middle ground and preserve their rich tradition and culture.

Now as I end my post, I’d like to give a special thanks to all of you who joined last week’s “Find Something Red” challenge.  Your posts were a treat.  They were creative, diverse, surprising, and inspiring.  Once again, thank you for being an important part of our wonderful creative community here at Word Press.

If you’re joining this week’s challenge, please be sure to link your post to Viveka’s at My Guilty Pleasures.  For the rest of February, we’ll return to our usual weekly Lens-Artists Photo Challenge schedule:

As always, Amy, Tina, Ann-Christine, and I look forward to seeing your creative responses to the challenge and thank you for your support!

65 replies »

  1. Beautiful photos. I’d expected Dublin and London to be charming, and, like you, was surprised by Lisbon and the welcoming open society of Portugal. Fiji, on the other hand, is a paradise that does not allow Fiji-born Indians equal rights. Not my cuppa.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your thoughts, IJ. We met some Fiji-born Indians when we were there and found out more about their lives in Fiji. I didn’t realize that Indians had been sent to work on the sugar cane plantations by British colonial rulers in the 1800’s and even into the 1900’s. The ethnic and religious tensions between the ethnic Fijians and Indo-Fijians are still very much there.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Patti, a wonderful journey … fantastic images and you have given us something that we don’t really think of when we think of capitals. I have been to all your capitals – two of them are very close to me, Dublin and London. Lisbon and I didn’t click at all.
    Suva – I think that is the capital of paradise. Wonderful place … loads of Indian restaurants. *smile – and very hot food, but also loads of good coconut milk. I was there in 1978. Patti, thank you for bringing me back. That London image is brilliant.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I couldn’t have named the capital of Fiji, Patti, but that might be the one for me 🙂 🙂 Urban only works for me in small doses. One of our walking group was born on Fiji. Why would you ever leave paradise? Thanks for sharing the beauty, hon. Have a great week!

    Liked by 2 people

    • To tell you the truth, Jo, I had to look up the capitals on Google to make sure I had the right cities!! I could never figure out why some capitals were never moved to the most populous cities. Why, for example, is Albany still the capital of the state of New York, and not New York City?? I hope you’re having a great week, too. Is it starting to get warm where you are? You have a short winter, but I’m not sure how short!


      • It does vary, Patti. It got up to 24C today but it will cool a little next week. At this time of year I’m happy with anything over 17/18C but the days are getting longer and it’s a beautiful time of year. 🙂 🙂 Keen to participate in Viveka’s challenge but I’m not one for archives. I much prefer to post as it happens.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Terrific post Patti. Loved your capitals/literary take on the theme. My favs on this are London and Lisbon—both wonderful images that evoke the personality of the places. And somehow I never knew that about Oscar Wilde. Hard labor for 2 years??? Outrageous.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Unbelievable, isn’t it? Hard labor. Thanks too for your kind words and thoughts on London and Lisbon, two cities with very distinct personalities. I love getting to know the personalities of these places, and I know you do, too!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi, Patti. Lisbon jumps out because much of European history (and colonizing history, at that) goes hand in hand with Portuguese and Spanish dominance of the seas (also Holland, England, etc.). Because I’ve read and heard so many good things about Portugal, it’s a country I’d like to visit which would include stops in Lisbon and Porto.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Fascinating collection of capitals – with the literary backstory to each one. Beautiful images – the Figi shot really caught my eye. The London shot was gorgeous – I was there once many years ago, but in January. I don’t remember foliage like that!


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