Set in Stone

By Mahum Qazi. Mahum is 15 years old. She is a student at Briar Woods High School. She lives in Ashburn, USA. *Shortlisted for the NUHA Youth Blogging Prize 2014*

He was sweating, his hands moving in a blur, ever so eager to let the image in his mind that was screaming out at him out of the marble. Moving, moving, moving, tool after tool, noises that made his ears ring, months of exhilarating work, still moving, still moving, still… Finally still. After many months, nay, years, of hard work, the angel was out. The enclosure it was trapped in had been diminished, reduced to an empty nothingness, letting the angel, in all of its glory, stand proud, awe-inspiring, hauntingly beautiful. All of his hard work, all of the sleepless nights, all of the tiresome days he spent carving can be seen, and lived, even, in the short statement, “I saw the angel in the marble and I carved until I set him free.

Centuries ago, Michelangelo lived, setting angels free. It only makes sense that he would do so; he himself had the hands, and name, of an angel. Still, today, his sculptures are almost… frightening, for lack of a better word, in the sense that they seem to hold your gaze. I have never had the pleasure to see them in person, but I have lived vicariously through the pictures and stories friends and family members show and tell me of the sculptures he erected. If today, those works can bring so much joy to people, it really makes one wonder just how much joy would be brought to someone who lived at the same time as he, someone who had witnessed the strenuous work and tiresome days he endured while the image of the angel struggled to leave that cage. Personally, I imagine him to be a perfectionist, but, of course, it cannot be said whether or not he was; it can definitely, however, be said that he was an aesthete; his work took so long, and the people who viewed the grandeur of his effort certainly were.

Michelangelo must have had super-human powers; not many people are able to see a blank canvas as a beautiful, finished product, especially in this day and age, where giving up before even starting is so common. This generation, well, I will not say we are lazy, but we are simply disheartened so easily, and oftentimes spoon-fed from the time we are born, that when faced with a challenge, we get so scared in the face of it that we refuse to even attempt to put up with it. For example, I love writing, but when faced with a prompt or contest, I get scared and disheartened, more times than not out of self-doubt. Michelangelo, however, was not like that at all. Marble was set in front of him, and he so suddenly saw something staring up at him from it that he slaved over it until that face, that almost haunting image, was released, until it no longer hung over him, like the Grim Reaper over a cancer patient. He was hardworking, truly, to willingly put in the effort to free something as perfect as that from its cage. I know that I, for one, would never be able to do that, and that is probably true about a large number of people today.

Michelangelo saw beauty in marble, something some would argue is so very plain, and, in contrast to the flourishing Florence he lived and studied in, the simple white rock set in front of him must have been oh-so boring to look at. The Florence he lived in was the home of the flowering European Renaissance, and the greatest artistic center at the time, housing many artists and wealthy patrons willing to pay them. For him to see beauty in something so plain when people would kill to experience the beauty he was surrounded with is truly a difficult feat, but he saw it and he did not give up until the beauty matched, even exceeded, the beauty of his surroundings. Him seeing the angelic features of the marble makes one wonder what he thought of the rest of the world. Nowadays, there is so little beauty in the world; nearly half of the world’s population lives in poverty, and one percent of it eats from silver spoons, pretending they are happy as they struggle with mental illnesses, and other misfortunes. The point I am trying to make is that Michelangelo was able to create something that exceeded the beauty of his time, something that was aeviternal, something that surely exceeds the beauty of today’s artificial, dishonest world.

This quote has seemingly endless explanations, yet none of them do justice at all to the beauty of his words, or, to his works. His words are eternal, infinite, the world itself seems to begin and collapse in that simple phrase. His words and works were something of great allure, and they will surely continue to inspire awe in humanity until the end of time

46 comments on “Set in Stone

  1. Abby DiOrio on

    Mahum’s writing is absolutely beautiful! she is such a talented person and writer who is able to use her abilities to put across a message worth being read all around the world.

    Reply
  2. Niamh Elizabeth on

    It is refreshing to see the youth of today bask in the wonder of art.
    Mahum proves that the youth of today,continue to be inspired by man’s natural talent. They continue to understand the passion found in a blank canvas or uncut stone. Mahum has justified her joy and enthusiasm by writing this wonderful piece. I am glad she found time to share with her peers in the
    blogging community.I look forward to her next contribution!

    Reply
  3. Adie Macklem on

    This is an absolutely gorgeous piece and I can tell that she has a passion for the written arts. Keep up the amazing work and I can not wait to read more of your work!

    Reply
  4. Pratishtha Panigrahi on

    Mahum, oh my god that was brilliant and had so so so much skill! I was literally blown away from your words. You conveyed your message really well and I don’t think anyone could have done it better. Keep writing and I promise, it will get you far! πŸ™‚

    Reply
  5. Aanchal on

    Mahum is truly the most talented writer i know. The way she uses her words is absolutely mind blowing. Wish you all the best in the competition Mahum! You really deserve to win. πŸ™‚

    Reply
  6. Faryal Sarwar on

    This 15 year old writer has the wit and style of a person far older. Her beautifully constructed words make us think again about how fleetingly we admire beauty or a work of art before moving on to something else. Brilliant job Mahum. Michelangelo would’ve been proud πŸ˜‰

    Reply
  7. Kanwal Saleem on

    WOW !!! Mahum Your essay is outstanding , Very well written sentences are clear shows excellent command of language and vocabulary .Very good argument, showing good comprehension. Essay is persuasively written and eloquent . I am all impressed . Keep it up !!

    Reply
  8. Gauhar Saleem on

    Magnificent piece of writing by the 15 yrs old Matko Mahum ! She has a great talent for writing.
    I look forward to reading more of her exquisite writings!

    Reply
  9. Mahrukh on

    Wonderfully written and expressed. The author has written about michelangelo’s sculpture in a manner that is as beautiful as the work of art itself. I really enjoyed reading how the writer portrayed michelangalo’s emotions while he carved the angel and set it free. I would also like to applaud the way she’s compared this artist’s vigor and enthusiasm for something he was so passionate about with the attitude of today’s generation. I felt motivated when I was reading her article and look forward to reading more of her written work.

    Reply
  10. Sadaf Mughal on

    Very well written and thought provoking article. Keep up the amazing work Mahum and already looking forward to your next masterpiece.

    Reply
  11. Bushra yaqoob on

    Wow Mahum,we can see a future best seller right in our neighborhood , what a profound look on past and present, and the way you are comparing and contrasting the present day youth with Michael Angelo is amazingly true,and using Michael Angelo’s life as a pattern to see how far behind we are still with all the technology and advancement ,as we do not have the insight and courage to be persistent and small drawbacks hold us permanently.Really proud of you and your effort is commendable .πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘

    Reply
  12. Hamnah Hafeez on

    Wow you’re a brilliant writer Mahum!!! You deserved to win. Follow your dreams and keep up the good work. I love you, you’re an amazing writer and an amazing friend.πŸ˜€

    Reply
  13. Sara Ann on

    I’m in graduate school and it is safe to say that Mahum is writing better than 90% of us in the program…she’s articulated her thoughts so effortlessly and effectively. Awesome job!

    Reply
  14. Needa Malik on

    Astonished that this writing comes from such a young individual. Very well done. Keep writing Mahum, it’s a skill that will serve you well for the remainder of your life.

    Reply
  15. Shaun on

    Brilliant! The intersection, in which Mahum compares Michelangelo’s Sisyphus-like obsession with his art and craft to her own, is eloquent and elaborate. It’s remarkable to read such great work from a 15 year old. I look forward to seeing more of her work and wish her the best of luck in her future writing endeavors!

    Reply
  16. Brent on

    What a wonderfully written tribute from one artist to another. You are a very clearly talented writer, young lady. Keep it up! May your art continue to grow and flourish.

    Reply
  17. Rameez on

    Wow, Mahum, mA. I can’t say I’m surprised because I’ve seen your writing, but still. I’m surprised. Haha. This is so well-done mA. Keep it up cuz!

    Reply
  18. Matt on

    Your point came across so well and the way you conveyed your thoughts through an artist’s perspective was extremely refreshing and could definitely change the way people think. The best thing I’ve read this month.

    Reply
  19. Paolo Arbid on

    This piece of writing is incredible, especially from a person of this age. The amount of descriptive wordplay and deep philosophical viewpoints, all in this short, 5 paragraph essay left me astounded. The simplest way to sum up my reaction to this essay would be this: wow.

    Reply
  20. nasreen on

    Wow,can’t believe my eyes.It is such an articulated piece of art.Mahum you have used well turned phrases to express your thoughts and your approach is declamatory.Would love to read some more articles by you.

    Reply
  21. nadeem on

    I’m amazed at how a 15 year old can tackle such a difficult topic so beautifully.
    I feel she has done true justice to the topic.
    And wish her best if luck.

    Reply
  22. Umair on

    A very very good rather excellent write up. Keep it up young lady & we may see you mentioned in the best sellers’ lists in a few years.

    Reply
  23. Bailey McDonald on

    Mahum, oh my gosh, this is absolutely breathtaking. I’m so proud of you, girl!! I can definitely see a future author in you. I loved the descriptiveness and how you really showed the beauty in working hard for something so important. Amazing work, Mahum! Keep it up!

    Reply

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