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