Friday, August 2, 2013

Featured Writer for August, John Keats (1795-1821)

Keats is considered one of the great romantic poets, although his work received little attention during his lifetime (take heart, young writers!) Keats' work only saw publication during the final four years of his life.
Perhaps there is much truth in the notion that an artist can well operate ahead of his/her time...
or at least somewhere outside of his time, and create endearing work that although existing on the fringe of contemporary thought, can stand with room to spare as a lasting treasure for the ages. This is the case with John Keats, who's work is now widely revered, studied and analyzed. John Keats can safely take a seat along side 
Shakespeare and Oscar Wilde.

A promising (and practicing) surgeon, having begun his life in the medical profession, John Keats would devote increasingly more time to his writing. His first published work: "Oh Solitude" was featured in a popular liberal magazine, The Examiner, in 1816. 
Thereafter, Keats' published works would receive mixed reviews.

In 1818, he found true love in young Francis (Fanny) Brawne. Much writing was devoted to her. It is unclear exactly how intimate the two became, although Keats left many hints in correspondence to those close to him, letters to her directly, and in his writing.

John Keats' final act fell upon him in 1820, in the form of a common illness at the time, Tuberculosis. He was advised to relocate to a warmer climate, and thus went to Greece to live out his days. His last year was shadowed by depression and longing for Fanny Brawne. 

Keats was convinced that he had left no substantial literary legacy to follow him, but with the biographical publication of his life and work, 27 years after his death by Richard Monckton Milnes, Keats was launched into the canon of great British writers, and his stronghold in the field lives to this day.

Sonnet to Fanny (1819)

I cry your mercy-pity-love!-aye, love!
Merciful love that tantalizes not,
One-thoughted, never wandering, guileless love,
Unmask'd, and being seen-without a blot!
O! let me have thee whole,-all-all-be mine!
That shape, that fairness, that sweet minor zest
Of love, your kiss,-those hands, those eyes divine,
That warm, white, lucent, million-pleasured breast,-
Yourself-your soul-in pity give me all,
Withhold no atom's atom or I die,
Or living on perhaps, your wretched thrall,
Forget, in the mist of idle misery,
Life's purposes,-the palate of my mind
Losing its gust, and my ambition blind

You Say You Love

You say you love; but with a voice,
Chaster than a nun's, who singeth
The softest vespers to herself
While the chime-bell ringeth-
O love me truly!

You say you love; but with a smile
Cold as sunrise in September,
As you were saint Cupid's nun,
and kept his weeks of Ember.
O love me truly!

You say you love-but then your lips
Coral tinted teach no blisses,
More than coral in the sea-
The never pout for kisses-
O love me truly!

You say you love; but then your hand
No soft squeeze for squeeze returneth,
It is like a statue's dead-
While mine to passion burneth-
O love me truly!

O breathe a word or two of fire!
Smile, as if those words should burn me,
Squeeze as lovers should-O kiss
And in thine heart inurn me!
O love me truly!

Faery Songs

Shed no tear-O shed no tear!
The flower will bloom another year.
Weep no more-O weep no more!
Young buds sleep in the root's white core!
Dry your eyes-O dry your eyes!,
For I was taught in Paradise
To ease my breast of melodies-
Shed no tear.

Overhead-look overhead
'Mong the blossoms white and red-
Look up, look up-I flutter now
On this flush pomegranate bough-
See me-'tis this slavery bill
Ever cures the good man's ill-
Shed no tear-O shed no tear!
The flower will bloom another year.
Adieu-Adieu-I fly, adieu,
I vanish in the heaven's blue-
Adieu, Adieu!

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