It is printed just as Keats wrote it. 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 Your note came in just here. I cannot be happier away from you. Do not threat me even in jest. I have been astonished that Men could die Martyrs for religion — I have shuddered at it. I shudder no more — I could be martyred 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 ravished 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.
My love is selfish. I cannot breathe without you. A man who writes love-letters in this strain is probably predestined, one may observe, to misfortune in his love-affairs; but that is nothing. The complete enervation of the writer is the real point for remark.
We have the tone, or rather the entire want of tone, the abandonment of all reticence and all dignity, of the merely sensuous man, of the man who "is passion's slave. It has in its relaxed self-abandonment something underbred and ignoble, as of a youth ill brought up, without the training which teaches us that we must put some constraint upon our feelings and upon the expression of them.
It is the sort of love-letter of a surgeon's apprentice which one might hear read out in a breach of promise case, or in the Divorce Court. The sensuous man speaks in it, and the sensuous man of a badly bred and badly trained sort. That many who are themselves, also, badly bred and badly trained should enjoy it, and should even think it a beautiful and characteristic production of him whom they call their "lovely and beloved Keats," does not make it better.
These are the admirers whose pawing and fondness does not good but harm to the fame of Keats; who concentrate attention upon what in him is least wholesome and most questionable; who worship him, and would have the world worship him too, as the poet of.
Light feet, dark violet eyes, and parted hair, Soft dimpled hands, white neck, and creamy breast. This sensuous strain Keats had, and a man of his poetic powers could not, whatever his strain, but show his talent in it. But he has something more, and something better.
We who believe Keats to have been by his promise, at any rate, if not fully by his performance, one of the very greatest of English poets, and who believe also that a merely sensuous man cannot either by promise or by performance be a very great poet, because poetry interprets life, and so large and noble a part of life is outside of such a man's ken, — we cannot but look for signs in him of something more than sensuousness, for signs of character and virtue.
And indeed the elements of high character Keats undoubtedly has, and the effort to develope them; the effort is frustrated and cut short by misfortune, and disease, and time, but for the due understanding of Keats's worth the recognition of this effort, and of the elements on which it worked, is necessary.
Lord Houghton, who praises very discriminatingly the poetry of Keats, has on his character, also, a remark full of discrimination. He says: "The faults of Keats's disposition were precisely the contrary of those attributed to him by common opinion. Great weight is laid by Lord Houghton an such a direct profession of faith as the following. Signs of virtue, in the true and large sense of the word, the instinct for virtue passing into the life of Keats and strengthening it, I find in the admirable wisdom and temper of what he says to his friend Bailey on the occasion of a quarrel between Reynolds and Haydon:—.
The same thing has happened between Haydon and Hunt. It is unfortunate; men should bear with each other; there lives not the man who may not be cut up, aye, lashed to pieces on his weakest side. The best of men have but a portion of good in them The sure way, Bailey, is first to know a man's faults, and then be passive. If, after that, he insensibly draws you towards him, then you have no power to break the link.
Before I felt interested in either Reynolds or Haydon, I was well read in their faults; yet, knowing them, I have been cementing gradually with both. I have an affection for them both, for reasons almost opposites and to both must I of necessity cling, supported always by the hope that when a little time, a few years, shall have tried me more fully in their esteem, I may be able to bring them together.
Butler has well said that "endeavouring to enforce upon our own minds a practical sense of virtue, or to beget in others that practical sense of it which a man really has himself, is a virtuous act. It is more than mere words; so justly thought and so discreetly urged as it is, it rises to the height of a virtuous act. It is proof or character. The same thing may be said of some words written to his friend Charles Brown, whose kindness, willingly exerted whenever Keats chose to avail himself of it, seemed to free him from any pressing necessity of earning his own living.
Keats felt that he must not allow this state of things to continue. He determined to set himself to "fag on as others do" at periodical literature, rather than to endanger his independence and his self-respect; and he writes to Brown:. This very habit would be the parent of idleness and difficulties. You will see it is a duty I owe to myself to break the neck of it.
I do nothing for my subsistence — make no exertion. At the end of another year you shall applaud me, not for verses, but for conduct. He had not, alas, another year of health before him when be announced that wholesome resolve; it then wanted but six months of the day of his fatal attack. But in the brief time allowed to him he did what he could to keep his word.
What character, again, what strength and clearness of judgment, in his criticism of his own productions, of the public, and of "the literary circles"! His words after the severe reviews of Endymion have often been quoted; they cannot be quoted too often:—. My own criticism has given me pain without comparison beyond what Blackwood or the Quarterly could possibly inflict; and also, when I feel I am right, no external praise can give me such a glow as my own solitary reperception and ratification of what is fine.
And again, as if he had foreseen certain of his admirers gushing over him, and was resolved to disengage his responsibility:—. I have no cause to complain, because I am certain anything really fine will in these days be felt. I have no doubt that if I had written Othello I should have been cheered. I shall go on with patience. Young poets almost inevitably over-rate what they call "the might of poesy," and its power over the world which now is.
Keats not a dupe on this matter any more than he is a dupe about the merit of his own performances:—. I don't wonder at it; the marvel is to me how people read so much of it. His attitude towards the public is that of a strong man, not of a weakling avid of praise, and made to "be snuff'd out by an article":—.
And again, in a passage where one may perhaps find fault with the capital letters, but surely with nothing else:—. I would be subdued before my friends, and thank them for subduing me; but among multitudes of men I have no feel of stooping; I hate the idea of humility to them. I never wrote one single line of poetry with the least shadow of thought about their opinion. Forgive me for vexing you, but it cases me to tell you: I could not live without the love of my friends; I would jump down Etna for any great public good — but I hate a mawkish popularity.
Although the creation of his art was a process that involved hard work and as careful an attention to the smallest details as any poet, he believed that the finest poetry developed from a "trust in feelings and imagination" and that this was the only way that one could think about it as well Stone Unlike other Romantic poets, such as Wordsworth, Byron and Shelley, Keats never took a particularly serious interest in political thought "beyond the general openness to radical and libertarian tho All Rights Reserved.
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