John Keats - Wikipedia
To me, John Keats was the bright young star of the Romantic movement. In a letter to Fanny Brawne in May , Keats wrote, “I love you, all I can to Fanny as a star and there is connection to death, love and swooning. John Keats's love affair with Fanny Brawne has become the stuff of legend. He was attracted to women, clearly, but his trust and intimacy resided in his His letters also reveal the profundity of his connection with George. THE LOVE affair between John Keats and Fanny Brawne was shortlived but burned intensely bright.
The simple ability to have a conversation with Fanny Brawne made her a woman unlike any other that Keats had met. Fanny Brawne was a woman unlike others, and this difference is what attracted Keats and made her someone he could talk to. Despite this unusual ability to have a discussion with Fanny Brawne their relationship was not without its share of problems. She wants sentiment in every feature. She manages to make her hair look well; her nostrils are fine, though a little painful.
Her mouth is bad and good; her Profile is better than her full-face which indeed is not full but pale and thin without showing any bone.
Her shape is very graceful and so are her movements. Her Arms are good, her hands baddish, her feet tolerable… she is ignorant, monstrous in her behavior, flying out in all directions, calling people such names that I was forced lately to make use of the term Minx Keats. He really saw little purpose in love, and found it to be tedious. Keats was so against the idea and result of love that he thought it and the reactions it produced in others to be simply laughable.
Just a month later this same man was writing to Fanny Brawne about how consumed he was with her; one of those laughable side effects of love that he previously mocked. I was in complete fascination all day. Already it is getting a little thick with love talk. The Letters of John Keats. So not only is he guilty of his prior labeled silly behavior, but he feels so strongly about her that if he were to lose her love it would test his very will to go on living. With the enthusiastic and impulsive kindness which marked his character, Severn accepted the charge.
Though young and inexperienced in life, he proved to be an admirable nurse for the ailing poet. The final goodbye to Fanny can only be surmised. But it is clear from surviving letters that she and Keats had fallen even more deeply in love during that last month.
John Keats and Fanny Brawne | andrewrwagner
The task of nursing him could have destroyed her affection, but instead it was deepened and strengthened. They exchanged gifts; she included a journal and paper so he could write to her and lined his traveling cap with silk. She also gave him an oval marble which she used to cool her hands while sewing which could also be used by a fevered patient. He did not write to her — he dared not — nor would he open her letters; the pain was too near. But he held the marble constantly.
John Keats was a great genius, but he had not one particle of common-sense — for himself. Few men of genius ever do have…. Why, a boy might have told Keats that the way to woo and win a woman was not to bare his heart before her, as he did before Fanny Brawne, and not to let her know, as he did, that he was her captive. If he had had the least glimmer of common-sense, he never would have surrendered at discretion.
They shared quarters with two women, with a screen dividing the beds. One of the women, eighteen year old Miss Cotterell, was the classic consumptive, wasted, weak, and glassy-eyed, pale but with a feverish blush on her cheeks and racked by a brutal cough.
In contrast, Keats was still not officially diagnosed and often seemed the picture of health. It was only a week or so into the voyage that Severn began to suspect the truth. For all of his outward signs of bonhomie, the poet grew feverish during the night, coughed hard and brought up blood. He often stood by himself, staring silently over the dark water.
But during the voyage Severn found Keats withdrawn and difficult to reach. Severn interrupted his, to their mutual friend William Haslam, when Keats wished to talk again.
The conversation soothed Keats but gave Severn fresh cause for concern. In the text of the letter to Brown, Keats had written: He also believed his younger brother Tom had died as much from a broken heart as consumption. This belief gave Severn some optimism since heartache was not as alarming as consumption. They finally arrived in Rome on 15 November. By coincidence, Clark was writing to Naples for word of his patient. He had arranged for Keats and Severn to live beside the staircase which led to the Church of the Trinita dei Monti, what is now called the Spanish Steps.
It was a well-known boarding house. There were three rooms — a large sitting-room which overlooked the piazza, a smaller bedroom with one window overlooking the piazza and the other the steps, and a tiny room in the back which Severn used for painting.
The constant crowd below their windows, the hub of the market and mingle of foreign voices, were lively distractions for the poet. He noticed that Keats had trouble with digestion; he also noted his heightened emotions. A firm believer in healthy food and fresh air, Clark prescribed both to Keats. He encouraged the poet to take short walks around the neighborhood; Keats did so and soon met other English visitors. These gentle distractions proved helpful.
But his illness had progressed far more than Clark suspected. The trip to Rome could not offer Keats physical health, but it could give him some measure of calm, a respite from the anguish and worries of England. The frantic months of losing his brothers, falling in love, writing perfectly at last and knowing it — they were too painful to contemplate.
Poor Severn could not hope to break this depression. Soon Clark held no hope of recovery and admitted as much to Keats. Severn would be forced to nurse him; he would also neglect his own work, the reason he had come to Rome.
But the painter refused the request. Keats grew angry; he raged at his companion. Severn was keeping him alive against his will. When Severn, not trusting himself, gave the bottle to Clark, Keats turned on the doctor. The year began his steady decline into the final stage of tuberculosis. Keats coughed hard and constantly, was wracked in sweat, his teeth chattered uncontrollably. Severn nursed him devotedly. Once, Keats awoke while Severn slept at his side.
The candle had gutted; in the dark, he cried out. Severn devised a clever solution; he connected a string of candles so that as one went out, the flame spread to the next.
The poet would sometimes cry upon waking to find himself still alive. Though Keats refused to pray himself, Severn prayed beside him. His thoughts now turned to his final resting-place, the Protestant Cemetery beside the pyramid of Caius Cestius.
He asked Severn to visit and describe the place for him.
Even today, it remains a place of peace and beauty. Severn told him of the daisies and violets which grew there, and of the flocks of goats and sheep which roamed over the graves. The description pleased Keats. He asked that one phrase be put upon his tombstone: He worried about the effect his illness and death would have on his friend, and tried to cheer him as best he could.
As he rushed about caring for Keats, the poet reassured him: It seemed he would die on Wednesday, 21 February; a new fit of coughing began and he asked Severn to hold him up so he could breathe. But he lingered on for another day. His breathing was deep and difficult, but he seemed beyond pain.
He was buried just before dawn on Monday 26 February. He also commissioned a death mask. It took three weeks for news of his death to reach home. I know my Keats is happy, I know my Keats is happy, happier a thousand times than he could have been here, for Fanny, you do not, you never can know how much he has suffered. So much that I do believe, were it in my power I would not bring him back.
All that grieves me now is that I was not with him, and so near it as I was…. He at least was never deceived about his complaint, though the Doctors were ignorant and unfeeling enough to send him to that wretched country to die, for it is now known that his recovery was impossible before he left us, and he might have died here with so many friends to soothe him and me me with him. All we have to console ourselves with is the great joy he felt that all his misfortunes were at an end.
She is dead, and cannot answer, and I have no right to answer for her; but my opinion is that she did not until it had outlived the obloquy which Gifford, and Wilson, and the scorpion Lockhart, had cast upon it. Look at her silhouette, which fronts the letters, and say if the cold, hard, haughty young woman who stood for that could love poetry! The influence of Miss Fanny Brawne was the most unfortunate one to which Keats was ever subjected.
She made him ridiculous in the eyes of his friends, and he hated his friends accordingly. He accused her of flirting with Brown, and no doubt justly. Hear what he has to say about it: I feel the effect of every one of those hours in my side now; and for that cause, though he has done me many services, though I know his love and friendship for me, though at this moment I should be without pence were it not for his assistance — I will never see or speak to him until we are both old men, if we are to be.
I will resent my heart having been made a foot-ball. Miss Fanny Brawne made John Keats ridiculous in the eyes of his friends in his lifetime, and now she through her representatives makes him ridiculous in the eyes of the world. She and they have had fifty-seven years in which to think about it; she forty-four years as maid and wife; they thirteen years as her children. Why did she keep his letters all those years? What could she keep them for but to minister to her vanity, and to remind her that once upon a time a crazy young English poet was desperately in love with her, was her captive and her slave?
What else could she keep them for? She revered the memory of Keats, did she?
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This is how she revered it…. I have two more questions to ask: What motive actuated the descendants of Fanny Brawne in allowing the publication of this objectionable book? Could there be any motive other than that of lucre?
Which interpretation is correct? In many ways, Fanny deserves our sympathy. He was kind to a fault, courteous and often painfully shy, and imbued with a deep sense of justice, but he could also be overly emotional, deeply conflicted, and passionate in his attachments. Fanny was the object of an almost overwhelming love and handled it as well as could be expected. The letters were highly emotional, at times manipulative and deliberately cruel. For the Victorians, they cast a cruel light upon a beloved poet.
Now, however, they are justly regarded as among the most beautiful letters ever written. However, he was not allowed to purchase exclusive ownership — only the actual physical letters themselves. Dilke agreed to this because he was allowed to prevent publication, which he desired above all else. He believed that publication would be cruel and senseless since an artist such as Keats did not deserve to have his most intimate thoughts shared with the public. But two years after the purchase, inHerbert demanded the letters back.
He was now convinced he could make more money at an open auction. Dilke had no written agreement or contract regarding his purchase, and was forced to surrender the letters. Houghton was preparing a new edition of his celebrated biography, and was certainly aware of the impact the letters would have in the new edition. However, for unknown reasons, negotiations between the two men broke down; possibly Herbert was advised of an even more profitable course. He would first publish the letters in a book and then — in the midst of free publicity — auction off the letters.
For over a year, debate raged throughout Europe and America as numerous copies were sold and the letters read by thousands. Keats was not yet at the apogee of his poetic reputation, but he was still a beloved and revered figure and the letters sold for a sum total of pds, a good amount in those days. Most of the outrage that greeted publication of the letters and the auction itself was directed at Fanny Brawne.
Most people felt she should have destroyed the letters long ago out of respect for Keats and herself. Almost uniformly, Fanny was declared unfit for Keats. Many reviewers commented that he was fortunate to have died before marrying Fanny since her bad character would have destroyed him.
It would be decades before another view of Fanny would arrive in the literary world. Inredemption came for Fanny Brawne. So while we can say with some certainty that she loved him at one time, its spell inevitably passed. He would not have written such letters to someone whose affections were unknown to him. Did Fanny love Keats as much as he loved her? Did he truly love her, or did he even truly know her?
Such questions can never be answered by biographers or critics. Their relationship, like his poetic ambition, would remain unfulfilled, another reason to think, If only…. One further thing which interests me is the lack of poetry in the letters. They are often poetic themselves, expressive and lyrical and beautiful, but there is little poetry.
Keats only rarely mentions his work. His letters to his brother George and to his male friends chronicle his work in great detail. He sends entire poems, sketches out ideas for future work, develops his philosophy of poetry, — yet all of this is absent in his letters to Fanny. This could, of course, be representative of a different era in romance.
In our own time, we prefer a relationship of equals, in which all concerns and interests are, if not shared, at least discussed. In the early 19th century, it was quite different. So perhaps I am doing them both a disservice.
She loved John Keats the man. His poetry concerned her only because it concerned him. If poetry doesn't come as naturally as leaves to a tree, then it better not come at all. The point of diving in a lake is not immediately to swim to the shore; it's to be in the lake, to luxuriate in the sensation of water. You do not work the lake out.
It is an experience beyond thought. Poetry soothes and emboldens the soul to accept mystery. It is through Brawne that much of the poetry of the film reveals itself, either from her memory, or read to her by Keats.