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The Love Letters Of John Keats To Fanny Brawne

Mimpi Gh By Mimpi Gh on
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by Joseph Severn, c. 1816

I had just begun to be intrigued by the college scenario as a fresher when I got introduced to the whole world of poetry, sonnets, odes, epitaphs, elegies. Each time I was mesmerized by the intense word play of passion and romanticism, especially that was present in the English Romantic movement. I particularly liked the love words of John Keats whose love affair with Fanny Brawne was unrequited and thus elevated to a different level altogether.

Keats's letters to Fanny Brawne are among the most famous love letters ever written. As next door neighbors, they exchanged numerous short notes, and at times more passionate ones. His illness brought them closer. And when he left for Rome, they were engaged and were deeply in love. Call me corny, but I still cherish those beautiful love moments and would love to share a few from my collection.

1# Love letter: dated October13, 1819 25 College Street

My dearest Girl,

This moment I have set myself to copy some verses out fair. I cannot proceed with any degree of content. I must write you a line or two and see if that will assist in dismissing you from my Mind for ever so short a time. Upon my Soul I can think of nothing else - The time is passed when I had power to advise and warn you again[s]t the unpromising morning of my Life - My love has made me selfish. I cannot exist without you - I am forgetful of every thing but seeing you again - my Life seems to stop there - I see no further. You have absorb'd me. I have a sensation at the present moment as though I was dissolving - I should be exquisitely miserable without the hope of soon seeing you. I should be afraid to separate myself far from you. My sweet Fanny, will your heart never change? My love, will it? I have no limit now to my love - You note came in just here - I cannot be happier away from you - 'T is richer than an Argosy of Pearles. Do not threat me even in jest. I have been astonished that Men could die Martyrs for religion - I have shudder'd at it - I shudder no more - I could be martyr'd for my Religion - Love is my religion - I could die for that - I could die for you. My Creed is Love and you are its only tenet - You have ravish'd me away by a Power I cannot resist: and yet I could resist till I saw you; and even since I have seen you I have endeavoured often "to reason against the reasons of my Love." I can do that no more - the pain would be too great - My Love is selfish - I cannot breathe without you.

Yours for ever John Keats

2# Love letter: dated October19, 1819 Great Smith Street Tuesday Morn

My sweet Fanny,

On awakening from my three days dream ("I cry to dream again") I find one and another astonish'd at my idleness and thoughtlessness - I was miserable last night - the morning is always restorative - I must be busy, or try to be so. I have several things to speak to you of tomorrow morning. Mrs Dilke I should think will tell you that I purpose living at Hampstead - I must impose chains upon myself - I shall be able to do nothing - I sho[ u ]ld like to cast the die for Love or death - I have no Patience with any thing else - if you ever intend to be cruel to me as you say in jest now but perhaps may sometimes be in earnest be so now and I will - my mind is in a tremble, I cannot tell what I am writing.

Ever my love yours John Keats

3# Love letter: dated March 1820

Sweetest Fanny,

You fear, sometimes, I do not love you so much as you wish? My dear Girl I love you ever and ever and without reserve. The more I have known you the more have I lov'd. In every way - even my jealousies have been agonies of Love, in the hottest fit I ever had I would have died for you. I have vex'd you too much. But for Love! Can I help it? You are always new. The last of your kisses was ever the sweetest; the last smile the brightest; the last movement the gracefullest. When you pass'd my window .home yesterday, I was fill'd with as much admiration as if I had then seen you for the first time. You uttered a half complaint once that I only lov'd your Beauty. Have I nothing else then to love in you but that? Do not I see a heart naturally furnish'd with wings imprison itself with me? No ill prospect has been able .to turn your thoughts a moment from me. This perhaps should be as much a subject of sorrow as joy - but I will not talk of that. Even if you did not love me I could not help an entire devotion to you: how much more deeply then must I feel for you knowing you love me. My Mind has been the most discontented and restless one that ever was put into a body too small for it. I never felt my Mind repose upon anything with complete and undistracted enjoyment - upon no person but you. When you are in the room my thoughts never fly out of window: you always concentrate my whole senses. The anxiety shown about our Loves in your last note is an immense pleasure to me: however you must not suffer such speculations to molest you any more: nor will I any more believe you can have the least pique against me. Brown is gone out - but here is Mrs. Wylie - when she is gone I shall be awake for you. - Remembrances to your Mother.

Your affectionate J. Keats.

4# Love letter: dated February (?) 1820

Dearest Fanny,

My sweet love, I shall wait patiently till tomorrow before I see you, and in the mean time, if there is any need of such a thing, assure you by your Beauty, that whenever I have at any .time written on a certain unpleasant subject, .it has been with your welfare impress'd upon my mind. How hurt I should have been had you ever acceded to what is, notwithstanding, very reasonable! How much the more do I love you from the general result! In my present state of Health I feel too much separated from you and could almost speak to you in the words of Lorenzo's Ghost to Isabella Your Beauty grows upon me and I feel A greater love through all my essence steal. My greatest torment since I have known you has been the fear of you being a little inclined to the Cressid; but that suspicion I dismiss utterly and remain happy in the surety of your Love, which I assure you is as much a wonder to me as a delight. Send me the words "Good night" to put under my pillow.

Your affectionate J.K.

5# Love letter: dated 29 (?) February 1820

My dear Fanny,

I think you had better not make any long stay with me when Mr Brown is at home-wh[en]ever he goes out you may bring your work. You will have a pleasant walk to day. I shall see you pass. I shall follow you with my eyes over the Heath. Will you come towards evening instead of before dinner - when you are gone, 't is past - if you do not come till the evening I have something to look forward to all day. Come round to my window for a moment when you have read this. Thank your Mother, for the preserves, for me. The raspberry will be too sweet not having any acid; therefore as you are so good a girl I shall make you a present of it. Good bye My sweet Love!

J. Keats

However, it was overall an unhappy affair for the poet. In the diary of Fanny Brawne was found only one sentence regarding the separation: "Mr. Keats has left Hampstead." Fanny's letters to Keats were, as the poet had requested, destroyed upon his death.

The love letters bear the vulnerability of the poet over his love and the next moment we find him contemplating it. The transition is exemplary and is dominant as in all other romantic poets. The letters are testimony to something unsurpassably beautiful and subtle and my most pricest possession.