Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Much have I travelled in the realms of gold

I am in love with a man who has been dead for 189 years.

It's true. I am in love with John Keats.

I have always been a fan of Keats' poetry; I think his work is just about as beautiful as words strung together can get. The way that he writes is as lovely and romantic as it is despairing and heart-breaking, and his poetry inspires emotions in me in a way that few other poets do. When I was in Rome in the summer I dragged my brother all the way down to the Protestant cemetary at the bottom of the city to see Keats' gravestone, as well as Percy Shelley's and Joseph Severn's. Severn cared for Keats in the months leading up to his death.

As part of my Romantics poetry course at uni this semester, we have just started studying the work of John Keats. If I loved his work before, I love the man now, also.

Keat's story is so, so sad. He was a beautifully talented poet; he loved poetry, he lived for poetry, but he spent a large portion of his teenage years and very early twenties in medical school, or caring for his youngest brother Thomas, who died of tuberculosis. His other brother George also died of tuberculosis, as would Keats himself.
Reading biographies on him, and letters that he sent to his friends, family and girlfriend (fiance, love of his life, whatever you call it) he seemed like such a nice lad, and he was so excited about his poetry. He was confident, but also very self-deprecating. He died when he was 25 years old.
(I think this is one of Keats' last letters to Fanny).

Today I watched the film Bright Star, which is about John Keats' love affair with Fanny Brawne, the above mentioned girlfriend, and ohmygod I cried my eyes out for almost the entire second half of the film! It's the saddest, most touching film I have seen in a very long time, but it was so perfect as well. Ben Whishaw plays Keats, and he is exactly how you imagine him to be when you read his poems. He pulls off the sensitive, intelligent, thoughtful poet magnificently, and he does it whilst breaking your heart and having a perfect haircut. Bravo, Ben. (You may recognise him as one of the Dylan's in I'm Not There, incidentally one of my favourite films).

Oh, and he also happens to have the prettiest voice in the world. Listen to him reading one of my favourite Keats poems. Listen to the language, the words, and imagine yourself there.

I don't know what it is about tragic men that effects me so much; I feel entirely the same way about Vincent Van Gogh as I do John Keats. My heart just breaks for them, and for their lost genius.


  1. you're completely right, i just listened to that top video and yes his voice is perfect. going to have to watch Bright Star.


  2. I think my comment might have gotten lost due to the crappy internet connection at uni.

    In any case, I was saying that the reason I really like your blog is because sometimes you post stuff that could come from my head as well :) I feel quite as passionate about literature as you.

    Also, I now have to see Bright Star. Someone once recc'd it to me but I never made an effort - now it seems that I have to watch it!


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