This image - the first in my gallery Anodyne Landscapes, and first image in my grouping of five galleries within Natural Beauty - epitomizes elements of the genre. The stylized image is worshipful toward the resplendence of Nature, it glories in colour, it evokes the essential mysteriousness of life, its design is composed along classical lines, and looking at it should make you feel affirmed, your soul soothed. Like the images that follow in this gallery, this one is also a bit old-fashioned, almost Pre-Raphaelite or perhaps Pictorialist in its romanticizing bid to move you.
Two poets capture well the wondrous spirit animating anodyne landscapes. "To me," says Walt Whitman, "every hour of the light and dark is a miracle. Every cubic inch of space is a miracle." In his Three Songs of Praise, a similarly ecstatic e.e. cummings thanks God for "the leaping greenly spirits of trees and a blue true dream of sky and for everything which is natural which is infinite which is yes."
These hymns double as threnodies, too, for the kind of lush, wild beauty that seems today already to be almost a bygone thing. Rilke closed his Eighth Duino Elegy with a lament that captures the wistful longing with which we now regard luxuriant shots of our mythically unspoiled natural world:
Who has twisted us around like this, so that
no matter what we do, we are in the posture
of someone going away? Just as, upon
the farthest hill, which shows him his whole valley
one last time, he turns, stops, lingers-,
so we live here, forever taking leave.