The Soul of a Poet
The daughter who caught Keats's attention was Fanny Brawne, Keats's neighbor. Keats and Brawne soon fell in love, and their star-crossed relationship. Feb 1, A new biography portrays Keats as a political personality as well as an artistic one. t's a sure-fire subject, but is there really any crying need for a big new life of John Keats? to grave money problems, a younger brother's protracted illness and (Gittings writes of Keats's fiancee, Fanny Brawne: ''By the. Take the Quiz: Bright Star. Star, which follows the life of poet John Keats and his lover, Fanny Brawne. 15 question trivia quiz, authored by daenerysmn type of creature does Fanny collect to honour her relationship with John Keats?.
Selected Letter of John Keats. Harvard University Press, The simple ability to have a conversation with Fanny Brawne made her a woman unlike any other that Keats had met. Fanny Brawne was a woman unlike others, and this difference is what attracted Keats and made her someone he could talk to.
Fanny Brawne Biography, Facts & Romance With Keats
Despite this unusual ability to have a discussion with Fanny Brawne their relationship was not without its share of problems. She wants sentiment in every feature. She manages to make her hair look well; her nostrils are fine, though a little painful.
Her mouth is bad and good; her Profile is better than her full-face which indeed is not full but pale and thin without showing any bone. Her shape is very graceful and so are her movements. Her Arms are good, her hands baddish, her feet tolerable… she is ignorant, monstrous in her behavior, flying out in all directions, calling people such names that I was forced lately to make use of the term Minx Keats. He really saw little purpose in love, and found it to be tedious.
Keats was so against the idea and result of love that he thought it and the reactions it produced in others to be simply laughable. Just a month later this same man was writing to Fanny Brawne about how consumed he was with her; one of those laughable side effects of love that he previously mocked.
I was in complete fascination all day. Already it is getting a little thick with love talk. These may not be his exact words as he spoke in a low tone.
He had a second and far more dangerous hemorrhage. His landlady summoned Hunt and Keats was moved to the Hunt household. Dr George Darling was summoned to his bedside.
Darling believed Keats was consumptive, and he prescribed the same light diet and blood-letting as Rodd. But now regular bleeding and a scanty diet took their toll upon his failing health. Hunt attempted to lift his spirits but it was hopeless. His household — five unruly children and a sick wife — was too noisy and troublesome. I am sickened at the brute world which you are smiling with. I would show some one in Love as I am, with a person living in such Liberty as you do.
The book was printed in the last week of June and was a far greater success than his earlier work. Indeed, its reception was as positive as any poet could wish.
His friends had long suggested a trip to Italy to recover his health.
Keats & Fanny: A fashionable affair
It has first been viewed as a chance to calm his spirits and allow needed rest. But now it was recognized as a last chance at recovery. Such trips to warmer climates were common for tubercular patients.
A letter from Fanny was mistakenly opened before being given to Keats. He was immediately and irrationally upset; he cried for hours and told a shocked Hunt that his heart was breaking.
His battle with the world had finally broken his spirit. Keats left for Hampstead, walking along Well Walk and past the rooms where Tom had died. He was glimpsed at the end of the street, sobbing into his handkerchief. He was so ill, exhausted, and emaciated that Mrs Brawne flouted society and admitted him. He would spend the next month there and later say it was the happiest time of his life.
That weekend he sent an apology to Hunt and notes to his sister and Taylor. In this way, he hoped to settle his debts with both men. Taylor was generous as always, and more than eager to help Keats.
He researched the matter and found that Rome was the best place for medical care. A kind Scottish doctor, James Clark, practiced there and Taylor could write ahead to secure his services. Clark already owned Endymion and the volume of poems. He knew of and admired Keats. The success of the last volume of poems allowed Taylor to advance money for the trip.
He visited Keats on Friday, 18 August and they discussed matters. Keats both dreaded and anticipated the trip. He did not dare believe he would return. The parting from Fanny, with whom he now lived, would be heartbreaking. He wrote to Brown, asking his closest friend to accompany him to Rome. Some biographers have implied that Brown refused, remaining in Scotland until it was too late to accompany Keats.
In truth, he left Scotland early and hurried back to London only to discover his friend already departed. Whether he wrote to Keats to accept his offer, we do not know. The journey was made more pressing by the end of August. Keats had another severe hemorrhage and was now confined to bed, nursed diligently by Fanny.
Happiness could be his at last, if not for this inherited illness.
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But who would accompany him? Brown had not returned. His other friends had ready excuses; Hunt, Haslam, and Dilke had families and Haydon was busy. On 12 September, Severn was approached. The young painter had always admired Keats. He had just won the Academy Gold Medal which would allow for a traveling fellowship. With the enthusiastic and impulsive kindness which marked his character, Severn accepted the charge.
Though young and inexperienced in life, he proved to be an admirable nurse for the ailing poet. The final goodbye to Fanny can only be surmised. But it is clear from surviving letters that she and Keats had fallen even more deeply in love during that last month. The task of nursing him could have destroyed her affection, but instead it was deepened and strengthened.
They exchanged gifts; she included a journal and paper so he could write to her and lined his traveling cap with silk. She also gave him an oval marble which she used to cool her hands while sewing which could also be used by a fevered patient. He did not write to her — he dared not — nor would he open her letters; the pain was too near. But he held the marble constantly. John Keats was a great genius, but he had not one particle of common-sense — for himself.
Few men of genius ever do have…. Why, a boy might have told Keats that the way to woo and win a woman was not to bare his heart before her, as he did before Fanny Brawne, and not to let her know, as he did, that he was her captive. If he had had the least glimmer of common-sense, he never would have surrendered at discretion. They shared quarters with two women, with a screen dividing the beds. One of the women, eighteen year old Miss Cotterell, was the classic consumptive, wasted, weak, and glassy-eyed, pale but with a feverish blush on her cheeks and racked by a brutal cough.
In contrast, Keats was still not officially diagnosed and often seemed the picture of health. It was only a week or so into the voyage that Severn began to suspect the truth. For all of his outward signs of bonhomie, the poet grew feverish during the night, coughed hard and brought up blood.
He often stood by himself, staring silently over the dark water. But during the voyage Severn found Keats withdrawn and difficult to reach. Severn interrupted his, to their mutual friend William Haslam, when Keats wished to talk again. The conversation soothed Keats but gave Severn fresh cause for concern. In the text of the letter to Brown, Keats had written: He also believed his younger brother Tom had died as much from a broken heart as consumption.
This belief gave Severn some optimism since heartache was not as alarming as consumption. They finally arrived in Rome on 15 November. By coincidence, Clark was writing to Naples for word of his patient. He had arranged for Keats and Severn to live beside the staircase which led to the Church of the Trinita dei Monti, what is now called the Spanish Steps. It was a well-known boarding house. There were three rooms — a large sitting-room which overlooked the piazza, a smaller bedroom with one window overlooking the piazza and the other the steps, and a tiny room in the back which Severn used for painting.
The constant crowd below their windows, the hub of the market and mingle of foreign voices, were lively distractions for the poet. He noticed that Keats had trouble with digestion; he also noted his heightened emotions. A firm believer in healthy food and fresh air, Clark prescribed both to Keats. He encouraged the poet to take short walks around the neighborhood; Keats did so and soon met other English visitors.
These gentle distractions proved helpful. But his illness had progressed far more than Clark suspected. The trip to Rome could not offer Keats physical health, but it could give him some measure of calm, a respite from the anguish and worries of England. The frantic months of losing his brothers, falling in love, writing perfectly at last and knowing it — they were too painful to contemplate. Poor Severn could not hope to break this depression. Soon Clark held no hope of recovery and admitted as much to Keats.
Severn would be forced to nurse him; he would also neglect his own work, the reason he had come to Rome. But the painter refused the request. Keats grew angry; he raged at his companion. Severn was keeping him alive against his will. When Severn, not trusting himself, gave the bottle to Clark, Keats turned on the doctor. The year began his steady decline into the final stage of tuberculosis. Keats coughed hard and constantly, was wracked in sweat, his teeth chattered uncontrollably. Severn nursed him devotedly.
Once, Keats awoke while Severn slept at his side. The candle had gutted; in the dark, he cried out. Severn devised a clever solution; he connected a string of candles so that as one went out, the flame spread to the next. The poet would sometimes cry upon waking to find himself still alive. Though Keats refused to pray himself, Severn prayed beside him. His thoughts now turned to his final resting-place, the Protestant Cemetery beside the pyramid of Caius Cestius.
He asked Severn to visit and describe the place for him. Even today, it remains a place of peace and beauty. Severn told him of the daisies and violets which grew there, and of the flocks of goats and sheep which roamed over the graves. The description pleased Keats.John Keats 1: Life & Legacy
He asked that one phrase be put upon his tombstone: He worried about the effect his illness and death would have on his friend, and tried to cheer him as best he could. As he rushed about caring for Keats, the poet reassured him: It seemed he would die on Wednesday, 21 February; a new fit of coughing began and he asked Severn to hold him up so he could breathe.
But he lingered on for another day. His breathing was deep and difficult, but he seemed beyond pain.
He was buried just before dawn on Monday 26 February. He also commissioned a death mask. It took three weeks for news of his death to reach home. I know my Keats is happy, I know my Keats is happy, happier a thousand times than he could have been here, for Fanny, you do not, you never can know how much he has suffered. So much that I do believe, were it in my power I would not bring him back. All that grieves me now is that I was not with him, and so near it as I was….
He at least was never deceived about his complaint, though the Doctors were ignorant and unfeeling enough to send him to that wretched country to die, for it is now known that his recovery was impossible before he left us, and he might have died here with so many friends to soothe him and me me with him. All we have to console ourselves with is the great joy he felt that all his misfortunes were at an end. She is dead, and cannot answer, and I have no right to answer for her; but my opinion is that she did not until it had outlived the obloquy which Gifford, and Wilson, and the scorpion Lockhart, had cast upon it.
Look at her silhouette, which fronts the letters, and say if the cold, hard, haughty young woman who stood for that could love poetry! The influence of Miss Fanny Brawne was the most unfortunate one to which Keats was ever subjected. She made him ridiculous in the eyes of his friends, and he hated his friends accordingly.
He accused her of flirting with Brown, and no doubt justly. Hear what he has to say about it: I feel the effect of every one of those hours in my side now; and for that cause, though he has done me many services, though I know his love and friendship for me, though at this moment I should be without pence were it not for his assistance — I will never see or speak to him until we are both old men, if we are to be.
I will resent my heart having been made a foot-ball. Miss Fanny Brawne made John Keats ridiculous in the eyes of his friends in his lifetime, and now she through her representatives makes him ridiculous in the eyes of the world. She and they have had fifty-seven years in which to think about it; she forty-four years as maid and wife; they thirteen years as her children. Why did she keep his letters all those years? She was becoming his whole universe in miniature. Two days after writing this letter, on 15 October, Keats returned to Wentworth Place for yet another visit.
Rather than helping to clarify his thoughts about the future, it only complicated them. Whether Fanny realised it or not, his recent remarks about the church had awoken deep memories which were connected with his love for her. Writing about Moneta, he had confronted the image of his dead mother. Adoring his lover, he could not help envisaging absence and loss. In any event, her steady acceptance was remarkable: By remaining in one mind herself, she guided Keats through the contradictions of his own thoughts towards a final decision.
Dilke that he would soon not be needing his lodgings any longer. He was planning to return to live with Brown in Wentworth Place.
The sonnet seems set on extending its catalogue until the final full stop. He realises that he risks being neither a satisfied lover nor a self-fulfilled writer: It is likely that Keats wrote another and much better known poem within a short time of completing this sonnet: The other reasons for supposing that Keats wrote it this month are equally persuasive. The poem resonates with phrases and ideas that Keats had used in his recent letters to Fanny: Instead of panting and gasping, filling its lines with irregular rhythms and snatched glances, it struggles to maintain the discipline of a strict form, a steady antithesis, and an evolving idea.
This raises a troubling question. Or rather, do they matter because they describe a condition he cannot emulate? At the beginning of the poem, they trigger a line of thought which is not completed, and at the end they seem admirable but remote—neither intimately supportive nor integrated.
On 18 October, twelve days before his twenty-fourth birthday, he finally asked Mrs. Dilke to let Fanny know that he was returning to live with Brown. It was a momentous decision, but they did their best to keep it secret, and agreed that Fanny should not wear the ring in public. They had several reasons. Keats knew that he could not afford to get married in the foreseeable future. He also realised that Mrs. Brawne did not approve. Moreover, he distrusted the reaction of his family and friends—rightly, as it turned out.
Dilke and Reynolds both soon discovered what had happened. Keats seemed more decided than he had done in Winchester, but he was still demoralised and introspective. His plans to live as a journalist had come to nothing, and his poetry was stalled. Brown did all he could to encourage him, seizing eagerly on a report in the Examiner which revealed that Kean had decided to honour his contract with Drury Lane, and would be remaining in London throughout the winter.
He urged Keats to make a few small revisions to Otho, and said he would send it to Elliston, the theatre manager. Keats agreed to make the changes, though gloomily refused to give his name as author, fearing that his low reputation would damage the chance of getting a fair reading. He was equally pessimistic about other possibilities. Spoken anonymously, the lines turn their appeal for sympathy into something like blackmail: