In our age, serious scholars argue that beauty is constructed. By this, they mean that there can never be any timeless beauty, that the idea of beauty is shaped by historical and cultural factors.
However, I listened to a Hindi song today and was struck by a thought. In the song, the man says that the woman he loves is more beautiful than the flowers. Immediately, the woman whose beauty he had praised, scorns his hyperbolic statement. She asks if it is possible for anyone to be more beautiful than a flower.
Listening to this exchange, it occurred to me that flowers are eternally beautiful. Is it possible to imagine a society and a person for whom the flower is not beautiful? To me, it seems incontestable that the flowers possess a timeless and universally appealing beauty.
This is not to say that the flowers do not have other meanings apart from their beauty. The Victorians, for example, had a language of flowers and different symbolic meanings for each flower. Yet, the basic aesthetic appeal of the flowers must always be present for humans.
And an intriguing question would be why the flower is beautiful to humankind. After all, we are not like the bees and the butterflies – we do not have to find the flower aesthetically appealing because of our role in nature and our hunger for pollen. What mysterious factor is it that makes the flower so beautiful to us? A man could spend a lifetime contemplating the cherry blossom. And it would not be a lifetime wasted.