"Darkling I listen
and for many a time I have been half in love with easeful death..." thus continues John Keats's "Ode to a Nightingale". His poems are energetically sweet yet oftentimes carry a mournful tone-- that is, his later poems. From the knowledge I've gathered by googling him incessantly, John's first published poetry book was Endymion, so named after a Greek myth. Endymion begins with the lines:
A thing of beauty is a joy for ever:
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.
Ode to a Nightingale is my favorite of his; if ever I were to suggest a poem to a new Keats reader, it would be this one.
"My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk..."
then becomes melancholy: "Fade away, dissolve, and quite forget
What thou among the leaves hast never known,
The weariness, the fever, and the fret
Here, where men sit and hear each other groan;
Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last gray hairs,
Where youth grows thin and spectre-thin and dies..."
His poetry to me is indispensable. It is so rich that if you read it without analyzing it, you can dip your mind into a rush of loveliness.
But I don't wish to bore-- I just want to show how very beautiful Keats's short life was-- life is indeed mysterious and we should almost luxuriate in out daily breathing. We are alive my friends!
John Keats's love letters to Fanny Brawne actually hold some of my favorite words from him. He writes them like poems, but here we read his ideas in full sentences, and so we might understand how he thought in fuller detail.
In one he writes,"But if you will fully love me, though there may be some fire, 'twill not be more than we can bear when
moistened and bedewed with Pleasures." (1819)
In another (July 8th, 1819) "...write the softest words and kiss them that I may at least touch my lips where yours have
been. For myself I know not how to express my devotion to so fair a form: I want a brighter word than bright, a
fairer word than fair. I almost wish we were butterflies and liv'd but three summer days—three such days with you I
could fill with more delight than fifty common years could ever contain."
"Bright Star" (based off of one of his poems "Bright Star! Would I Were Steadfast as Thou Art") is a Jane Campion film that came out a couple of years ago detailing a small portion of Keats's life where he meets and falls in love with Fanny Brawne (1800-1865). She apparently had a fierce personality and wore it well, literally. She loved fashion and music, and when she met John, mused about poetry. I posted a real picture of her.
I cannot tell you how sweet it is to listen to the soundtrack from the movie. Ben Wishaw, who plays Keats, reads poetry and some songs are simply recordings of the movie.
John Keats (1795) died in 1821 from Tuberculosis. He had doubts about Fanny's love, and expressed it in (I am quite sure) the last poem he wrote on his deathbed-- though from what we can gather, he loved her and the delicate world around him with a passion such as few can know. A true child of Romanticism.
This video is from youtube! not mine (the photos are not either)! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iIEjMSsSPw0