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Bright Star: Love Letters and Poems of John Keats to Fanny Brawne Paperback – Bargain Price, September 16, 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Mti edition (September 16, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143117742
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143117742
  • ASIN: B00342VEVA
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 5 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,130,971 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

John Keats was born in October 1795, son of the manager of a livery stable in Moorfields. His father died in 1804 and his mother, of tuberculosis, in 1810. By then he had received a good education at John Clarke’s Enfield private school. In 1811 he was apprenticed to a surgeon, completing his professional training at Guy’s Hospital in 1816. His decision to commit himself to poetry rather than a medical career was a courageous one, based more on a challenge to himself than any actual achievement.

His genius was recognized and encouraged by early Mends like Charles Cowden Clarke and J. H. Reynolds, and in October 1816 he met Leigh Hunt, whose Examiner had already published Keats’s first poem. Only seven months later Poems (1817) appeared. Despite the high hopes of the Hunt circle, it was a failure. By the time Endymion was published in 1818 Keats’s name had been identified with Hunt’s ‘Cockney School’, and the Tory Blackwood’s Magazine delivered a violent attack on Keats as a lower-class vulgarian, with no right to aspire to ‘poetry’.

But for Keats fame lay not in contemporary literary politics but with posterity. Spenser, Shakespeare, Milton, and Wordsworth were his inspiration and challenge. The extraordinary speed with which Keats matured is evident from his letters. In 1818 he had worked on the powerful epic fragment Hyperion, and in 1819 he wrote ‘The Eve of St Agnes’, ‘La Belle Dame sans Merci’, the major odes, Lamia, and the deeply exploratory Fall of Hyperion. Keats was already unwell when preparing the 1820 volume for the press; by the time it appeared in July he was desperately ill. He died in Rome in 1821. Keats’s final volume did receive some contemporary critical recognition, but it was not until the latter part of the nineteenth century that his place in English Romanticism began to be recognized, and not until this century that it became fully recognized.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Bright star, would I were steadfast as thou art--
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
Like nature's patient, sleepless Eremite,
The moving waters at their priestlike task
Of pure ablution round earth's human shores,
Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask
Of snow upon the mountains and the moors--
No--yet still stedfast, still unchangeable,
Pillow'd upon my fair love's ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever--or else swoon to death.



La Belle Dame Sans Merci

Ah, what can ail thee, wretched wight,
 Alone and palely loitering;
The sedge is wither'd from the lake,
 And no birds sing.

Ah, what can ail thee, wretched wight,
 So haggard and so woe-begone?
The squirrel's granary is full,
 And the harvest's done.

I see a lily on thy brow,
 With anguish moist and fever dew;
And on thy cheek a fading rose
 Fast withereth too.

I met a lady in the meads
 Full beautiful, a faery's child;
Her hair was long, her foot was light,
 And her eyes were wild.

I set her on my pacing steed,
 And nothing else saw all day long;
For sideways would she lean, and sing
 A faery's song.

I made a garland for her head,
 And bracelets too, and fragrant zone;
She look'd at me as she did love,
 And made sweet moan.

She found me roots of relish sweet,
 And honey wild, and manna dew;
And sure in language strange she said,
 I love thee true.

She took me to her elfin grot,
 And there she gaz'd and sighed deep,
And there I shut her wild sad eyes--
 So kiss'd to sleep.

And there we slumber'd on the moss,
 And there I dream'd, ah woe betide,
The latest dream I ever dream'd
 On the cold hill side.

I saw pale kings, and princes too,
 Pale warriors, death-pale were they all;
Who cry'd--"La belle Dame sans merci
 Hath thee in thrall!"

I saw their starv'd lips in the gloam
 With horrid warning gaped wide,
And I awoke, and found me here
 On the cold hill side.

And this is why I sojourn here
 Alone and palely loitering,
Though the sedge is wither'd from the lake,
 And no birds sing.



Customer Reviews

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I already think that a poet in love is one of the rarest and most beautiful things in the world.
Gabby
The book contains an introduction by director Jane Campion, all of Keats' letter to his beloved Fanny, and the poems that were inspired by her.
schmettajames
For anyone who enjoyed the film, as I did, the book provides a glimpse at the inspiration and source material for Campion's work.
S. B. Moore

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By S. B. Moore on September 30, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Published as a companion to the motion picture of the same name directed by Jane Campion [The Piano], this is a collection of the love letters and poems written by John Keats to his beloved Fanny Brawne. For anyone who enjoyed the film, as I did, the book provides a glimpse at the inspiration and source material for Campion's work. Campion's introduction to the collection gives a history of Keats and Brawne's intense love for each other. The love letters are delightful, touching, painful and the poems are amongst the greatest of the Romantic era. One inexplicable exclusion from the collection is "Ode to a Nightingale," a poem of Keats' that figures in the film. The recitation of "Ode to a Nightingale" during the final credits by the actor who portrays Keats, Ben Whishaw, is reason enough to go see the film. Though readily available in poetry collections and on the internet, the absence of this beautiful and key poem from a collection centered around this tragic love story is a shortcoming and may disappoint those who want to savor its words in print.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By H. S. Wedekind VINE VOICE on December 3, 2009
Format: Paperback
This slim 132 page book was published as a companion to the film "Bright Star" (2009) directed by Jane Campion, who also wrote the introduction. I did not see the movie, as it was shown in only a few theaters in this area for a brief period of time, and hardly any word of it was mentioned in the local newspapers. I understand that it will be out in DVD in January 2010.

Anyone who loves the poetry of the English Romantic Writers, e.g., Byron, Coleridge, Wordsworth, Shelley, et al, is already familiar with the poems of John Keats. It is interesting, though, that these poems and letters were the product of Keats's intense love for Fanny Brawne. Written in the last few years of his life, they are honest, open, touching, and full of life, love, and youthful optimism. They also hint of the tragedy yet to come.

A letter written on 27 February 1821 by Joseph Severn, the friend who accompanied Keats to Rome, recalls Keats's last moments:

"He is gone-he died with the most perfect ease-he seemed to go to sleep. On the 23rd, about 4, the approaches of death came on, 'Severn-I-lift me up-I am dying-I shall die easy-don't be frightened-be firm, and thank God it has come!' I lifted him up in my arms...he gradually sunk into death-so quiet-that I still thought he slept. I cannot say now-I am broken down from four nights' watching, and no sleep since, and my poor Keats gone."
(ENGLISH ROMANTIC WRITERS - David Perkins, Ed. p.1263)

How could I give anything less than 5 stars?

* The first line of "When I Have Fears" by John Keats (1818)
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By schmettajames VINE VOICE on July 15, 2010
Format: Paperback
Bright Star, the story of the doomed love story of Romantic poet John Keats and Fanny Brawne, was my favorite film of 2009, and this slim volume is an excellent companion to it. The book contains an introduction by director Jane Campion, all of Keats' letter to his beloved Fanny, and the poems that were inspired by her. If you are new to Keats or want to learn more about the man behind the movie, this is a good place to start. If you're already familiar with Keats' work, this volume may not satisfy you, and I would recommend his Collected Poems.

This book is worth adding to your library for the beautifully written letters to Fanny. In his letters, Keats is passionate, sad, occasionally desperate, and very aware of his own mortality. Unfortunately, we don't have the other side of the story; Fanny's letters to Keats were destroyed (at his request). (Fanny did correspond in later years with Keats' sister, so we know something of her thoughts on the relationship.) But even on their own, Keats' letters are wonderful to read and add another dimension to the experience of the film.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Barbara Bell VINE VOICE on March 2, 2010
Format: Paperback
"Bright Star," showcases the love letters and poems written by John Keats to Fanny Brawne.

Although Keats died when he was just 25, he left behind some of the most amazing poetry ever written. He also left a tender collection of love letters, inspired by his great love for Fanny Brawne. They knew each other only a few short years and spent much of this time apart due to Keats' worsening illness.

Keats writes again and again about Fanny. In fact, the last poem of this book is called, "To Fanny," and he wrote love letters to her constantly. (Oh, swoon! And get this - she wore the ring he had given her until her death, almost 45 years after he passed away.)

The movie itself Bright Star is a treat to watch. Picture it: The setting is London, and the year is 1818. A secret love affair begins between 23 year-old English poet, John Keats (played by Ben Whishaw), and the girl next door, Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish), who is an out-spoken student of high fashion. This unlikely duo begins their friendship by butting heads. He thinks she's stylish, but too much of a flirt, while she is unimpressed with literature in general.

When Fanny hears that Keats is nursing his seriously ill younger brother, she offers to help. Keats is touched by her efforts and shares his poetry with her. The poetry soon becomes a romantic remedy that works not only to sort their differences, but also to fuel their love for one another.

Fanny's mother becomes alarmed by this friendship (typical, huh?), but by then their relationship has an unstoppable momentum. Intensely and helplessly absorbed in each other, the young lovers are swept up in the tide of their emotions.
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