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Bright Star: Love Letters and Poems of John Keats to Fanny Brawne Paperback – September 16, 2009
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About the Author
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.
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.
Top Customer Reviews
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)
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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is not a novel. This is a collection of poet John Keats's love letters to his fiancee Fanny Brawn and some of his greatest lyrics. One of the best reads anyone can pick up.Published 7 months ago by G. J. Davis
One of the greatest books of all times. A must read for everyone.Published 11 months ago by Virginia Branson
DRAMATIC, LOVING, SAD AND BEAUTIFUL EXPRESSIONS OF LIFE , LOVE AND THE FEAR DEATH. WONDERFUL KEATS !!!!Published 20 months ago by Catherine R Schoenberg
A wonderful book filled with letters and poetry written by John Keats. The letters that were written by Fanny Brawne were unfortunately lost or destroyed. Read morePublished on August 11, 2013 by Margaret
I already think that a poet in love is one of the rarest and most beautiful things in the world. The moment I started this book was amazing. Read morePublished on July 9, 2013 by Gabby
Wonderful insight into the life of John Keats! The story of Keats and Fanny Brawne is fascinating. I loved the movie and now I love this book.Published on December 4, 2012 by Melissa McKnelly
A great movie and love story. A must have if you adore this genre. Jane Campion really hit a home run.Published on July 11, 2012 by M. Wojahn
"Write the softest words and kiss them that I may at least
touch my lips where yours have been. Read more
John Keats was a talented poet, and his love letters to Fanny Brawne are a tribute to his talent, and the depth of his feelings for her. Read morePublished on December 15, 2010 by P. J. Scott