Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Photo of the Day: ‘Rapture on the Lonely Shore’—Hilton Head, SC

“There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
   There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
   There is society where none intrudes,
   By the deep Sea, and music in its roar:
   I love not Man the less, but Nature more,
   From these our interviews, in which I steal
   From all I may be, or have been before,
   To mingle with the Universe, and feel
What I can ne'er express, yet cannot all conceal.” — English Romantic poet George Gordon, Lord Byron (1788-1824), Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage (1812)

Lord Byron never visited America, let alone the shore of South Carolina. When I took this photo while on vacation in Hilton Head six years, the beach at that point in the day was not “lonely.” But I certainly felt the “rapture” he evoked in this passage as I pedaled my bike on the shoreline.

In these dying days of a year darkened by COVID-19, memory is the only way to experience vistas like this once taken for granted in the era of untrammeled travel. But memory—and the magical verses like these—remain, for all that, enormously powerful.

Let’s hope that, at some point in the new year, we will have once again the opportunity “to mingle with the Universe” without fear.

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