THE DREAM OF THE POMEGRANATE
IL SOGNO DEL MELOGRANO
What do you see in the picture?
Do you like nature?
Do you enjoy spending a lot of time outside, in natural surroundings?
At the beginning of the twentieth century, two artists appreciated and described nature and human feelings in their own way. They came from opposite sides of the world. They were Felice Casorati from Turin (Italy) and Pablo Neruda from Santiago de Chile (Chile).
Felice Casorati was a painter, sculptor, and printmaker. His most famous paintings include figure compositions, portraits and still lifes. These are often distinguished by unusual perspective effects. His works of art are usually categorized as the style of “magic realism”. Magic realism shows a realistic view of the world but with magical elements added, often blurring the lines between fantasy and reality.
What’s interesting in Casorati’s paintings is that both characters and environment have geometric shapes, very defined. They have a relation to one another: the environment seems to represent the innermost thoughts of the person. There is always an open space, as if the painting is not only there, but continues beyond the canvas.
In the same years, Pablo Neruda lived and worked. He wrote his first poem at the age of ten and achieved notoriety and publication while still in his teens. He originally planned to be a teacher, but found higher education uninspiring. Instead, he served in a variety of diplomatic positions and wrote poetry—lots of it. He was an avowed Communist (the Chilean Communist party actually nominated him for president in 1971). Much of Neruda’s work was political in nature, but he is primarily remembered for his love poems. In 1971 he won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Neruda’s poems communicate human feelings and love for nature and the world.
Listen to this video (you can also activate subtitles)
Romance and revolution: The poetry of Pablo Neruda – Ilan Stavans
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Research reveals that our environments can increase or reduce our stress, which in turn impacts our bodies. What you see, hear and experience at any moment can change not only your mood, but how your nervous, endocrine, and immune systems work.
The stress of an unpleasant environment can cause you to feel anxious, or sad, or helpless. This, in turn, elevates your blood pressure, heart rate, and muscle tension, and suppresses your immune system. A pleasant environment reverses that.
A lot of studies have been done on the influence of nature on human beings. Professors Kuo and Coley conducted a series of field studies at the Human-Environment Research Lab, University of Illinois. According to them, time spent in nature connects us to each other and to the larger world. Another study at the University of Illinois examined residents in Chicago public housing. This study suggests that people who had trees and green space around their building enjoyed a richer life. First of all, they reported knowing more people. Second, they had stronger feelings of unity with neighbours. Moreover, they were more concerned with helping and supporting each other. Finally, they had stronger feelings of belonging than tenants in buildings without trees. Besides this greater sense of community, they had a reduced risk of street crime and lower levels of violence and aggression. They also had a better capacity to cope with life’s demands, especially the stresses of living in poverty.
This experience of connection may be explained by studies that used MRI to measure brain activity. When participants viewed nature scenes, the parts of the brain associated with empathy and love lit up. But when they viewed urban scenes, the parts of the brain associated with fear and anxiety were activated. It appears as though nature inspires feelings that connect us to each other and our environment.
Too much time in front of screens is deadly
“Nature deprivation”, a lack of time in the natural world, is associated with depression. “Nature deprivation” is largely due to hours spent in front of TV or computer screens. More unexpected are studies by Weinstein and others that associate screen time with loss of empathy and lack of altruism.
Click on the link to learn about transitive and intransitive verbs
Look at these verbs. Are they transitive (verbs which need an object) or intransitive (verbs which don’t need an object)?
To sleep – to walk – to meow
These verbs are intransitive. They don’t need an object.
A transitive verb needs an object and sounds incomplete without one. Here are some sentences with transitive verbs:
I drink coffee.
She caught the ball.
You were carrying the bag.
If you take away the words that are underlined (the objects), the sentences are incomplete and don’t really make sense.
Compare with intransitive verbs (in bold):
Be quiet – she is speaking.
- We have finished.
If you want to know more about Pablo Neruda
If you want to know more works of art of Casorati
Extra resources for learners
Exercises on transitive and intransitive verbs