London GFE escort, Saffron Smith, writes a short commentary on The Musicians & an even shorter poem on the transience of youth (which is slightly longer but still short).
It was a moment in time that we thought would last forever ―
You with your paintbrush, me with my lute, us and our youth and insouciance.
But classical Rome has come and gone, as has 1597, as will your time too, Visitor.
Perhaps before it does, it will be preserved in paint, print, picture or press
but then again perhaps not.
But whether immortalised or not, all other moments will vaporise and vanish into the void you now feel in your heart thinking of it.
Then what remains of your moments, your footsteps, of you?
We were all once 15, and we will all no longer be, and therein, my friend, lies our humanity.
This short poem I wrote was inspired by a Caravaggio painting I recently saw. Walking through a sea of old paintings it was the one above, called The Musicians, which caught my eye. What I found so striking about it was the youth, the attitude and the look of the artist’s subjects. Depicting a group of young men or adolescent boys at a classical Roman era jam, it captures a youthful regard familiar to anyone from any time. Two of the musicians appear to look directly at the “viewer” with the self-possessed confidence of youth that thinks its youth will last forever.
The universal nature of the human condition is what tends to have the most impact on me whether in literature, music or the visual arts. Whilst the musicians in the painting possess an air of invincibility and eternal youth, what jolted me about them was the simple thought that not only are they long-since dead but that so too are their great-great-great-great-great grandchildren. At once, there is both sadness and solace within this. Sadness that everything must come to an end and solace that so it must for everyone.
Every generation suffers the affliction of considering itself – its problems, its issues, its everything – unique to them. Individually, we might from time to time manage to see past the ends of our own noses and gaze beyond our navels. However – as generations, as epochs, as societies – our existences tend to be lived in hermetically-sealed vacuum packs. We appear to exhibit little in the way of knowledge or inquisitive thought of other generations that proceed or precede us, or display much in the way of general historical consciousness.
If we do ever stop to consider earlier generations, even those close to us, it’s often with the thought that bygone times were quaint and antiquated and that we have progressed (or, sometimes, regressed) so much since then. Yet while the way we live our lives has changed considerably over the years, many of the issues we grapple with have remained constant. Whether concerning issues relating to the personal questions which occupy our thoughts, navigating our journey through the world, finding comfort in the space we occupy within it or many of the issues surrounding our relationships with other humans – all of these matters have been grappled with for millennia, never mind centuries. This is something I draw comfort and reassurance from. Our youth may be passed to the soundtrack of older folk falsely invoking “the good old days” but really they were just “other days”.