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Letter to Charles Brown, September 1820.

PostPosted: Mon Jan 25, 2010 5:35 pm
by Raphael
“The thought of leaving Miss Brawne is beyond everything horrible- the sense of darkness coming over me. I eternally see her figure vanishing. Some of the phrases she was in the habit of using during my last nursing at Wentworth Place ring in my ears. Is there another life? Shall I awake and find all this dream? There must be; we cannot be created for this sort of suffering.”



In her introduction to Bright and Delicate (his letters to Fanny), Jane Campion wrote:



“As the day of his departure for Italy arrived, it felt to Fanny unbearable and unreal. Keats himself reports that she asked repeatedly, “Is there another life...There must be, we cannot be created for this kind of suffering.”



I had thought these words to be his before- have I misread it before? He wrote similar words again in one of his letters, but that doesn’t mean the lovers didn’t say the same things to each other. Is Jane Campion right in her interpretation that he is reporting what Fanny would say to him?

Re: Letter to Charles Brown, September 1820.

PostPosted: Mon Jan 25, 2010 5:44 pm
by Malia
Interesting observation, Raphael. I suppose you could read it both ways--however, I think the question is Keats's. I don't think he's reiterating specific questions Fanny used. He mentions that he remembers *phrases* that she was in the habit of using. The questions he follows up with are in complete sentences, so if we are going to do a strict interpretation, they would not be Fanny's "phrases," but rather Keats's own philosophical questioning of the whole experience.

Re: Letter to Charles Brown, September 1820.

PostPosted: Mon Jan 25, 2010 5:48 pm
by Raphael
Malia wrote:Interesting observation, Raphael. I suppose you could read it both ways--however, I think the question is Keats's. I don't think he's reiterating specific questions Fanny used. He mentions that he remembers *phrases* that she was in the habit of using. The questions he follows up with are in complete sentences, so if we are going to do a strict interpretation, they would not be Fanny's "phrases," but rather Keats's own philosophical questioning of the whole experience.



I think it was him too and Jane bless her misread it. She also got his hair colour wrong- says he's blond when he is red haired!

Re: Letter to Charles Brown, September 1820.

PostPosted: Mon Jan 25, 2010 5:57 pm
by Malia
Yes, Keats was definitely not blond. She may have gotten that idea from looking at the examples of Keats's hair that still exist. In one example, Keats's hair was used to string a lyre-shaped brooch and the hair does look blond--but on close examination, it is easy to see that the hair is faded, not necessarily naturally blond in color. I've see a lock of Keats's hair (the first time I visited Wentworth Place) and it looked to me to be a sort of russet color that could be seen as either light brown or auburn, depending on the light.

Re: Letter to Charles Brown, September 1820.

PostPosted: Mon Jan 25, 2010 6:38 pm
by Raphael
Malia wrote:Yes, Keats was definitely not blond. She may have gotten that idea from looking at the examples of Keats's hair that still exist. In one example, Keats's hair was used to string a lyre-shaped brooch and the hair does look blond--but on close examination, it is easy to see that the hair is faded, not necessarily naturally blond in color. I've see a lock of Keats's hair (the first time I visited Wentworth Place) and it looked to me to be a sort of russet color that could be seen as either light brown or auburn, depending on the light.


Wow- I was going to ask you if the lock of his hair was still at Keats house! Is it the one in the locket with JK on it? There's a photo of it on the house website. His hair is very beautiful isn't it? Fanny Brawne wrote to his sister ( when he'd just left for Italy) offering her a lock of his hair but said that it was short as "he had little at the time"- so he must have had it cut very short by the time he was leaving. He had quite long hair (like in my avatar pic) and seemed to like it that way - I wonder why he had it cut short?

Re: Letter to Charles Brown, September 1820.

PostPosted: Mon Jan 25, 2010 8:27 pm
by Malia
I'm sure he cut his hair short for the journey. Being ill (often with night sweats) short hair would be more comfortable for him and he wouldn't have to worry about the bother of cutting/grooming it.

Re: Letter to Charles Brown, September 1820.

PostPosted: Tue Jan 26, 2010 3:00 pm
by Raphael
Malia wrote:I'm sure he cut his hair short for the journey. Being ill (often with night sweats) short hair would be more comfortable for him and he wouldn't have to worry about the bother of cutting/grooming it.


I thought that must be the reason, poor sweet John. And Fanny went on to cut her hair short in mourning- maybe by cutting her hair she was honouring him in a way as he had cut his short.
I forgot to also say re Jane Campion- surely she must have seen his portraits which show his russet hair colouring?

Re: Letter to Charles Brown, September 1820.

PostPosted: Wed Jan 27, 2010 1:22 pm
by Cybele
Malia wrote:I'm sure he cut his hair short for the journey. Being ill (often with night sweats) short hair would be more comfortable for him and he wouldn't have to worry about the bother of cutting/grooming it.


I'm pretty sure you're correct. There's a small watercolor/drawing by Severn showing Keats sitting on the deck of the Maria Crowther. In the picture, the poet's hair is shorter than in any other depictions of him.

Re: Letter to Charles Brown, September 1820.

PostPosted: Wed Jan 27, 2010 11:11 pm
by Malia
I've seen that drawing of Keats on the ship, Cybele. To me, it feels so full of suppressed feeling. The shadowed, haunted eyes of Keats, as he reads his book (or newspaper)--it is so easy to see how hard he is trying to hold himself in check.

Re: Letter to Charles Brown, September 1820.

PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2010 3:47 pm
by Raphael
Malia wrote:I've seen that drawing of Keats on the ship, Cybele. To me, it feels so full of suppressed feeling. The shadowed, haunted eyes of Keats, as he reads his book (or newspaper)--it is so easy to see how hard he is trying to hold himself in check.


Wow- I never heard of this drawing-has anyone got a link to it please? I'd love to see it, sad though it sounds.
I think he needs a hug don't you? (( (((((((((John))))))))))

Re: Letter to Charles Brown, September 1820.

PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2010 3:50 pm
by Malia
Hi Raphael :)
I'm pretty sure that pic is on the forum in the images of Keats section (or a section entitled something like that!). I actually scanned the image from my old biography of Severn and posted it years ago. Let me see if I can find it for you . . .

Re: Letter to Charles Brown, September 1820.

PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2010 3:52 pm
by Raphael
Malia wrote:Hi Raphael :)
I'm pretty sure that pic is on the forum in the images of Keats section (or a section entitled something like that!). I actually scanned the image from my old biography of Severn and posted it years ago. Let me see if I can find it for you . . .



I haven't seen it in the images section..but if you can find it I'd be very grateful! X

Re: Letter to Charles Brown, September 1820.

PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2010 3:55 pm
by Malia
OK, I've found it and posted to it so you can easily see the thread. It is in the "life and letters" forum and should now be just below this thread. The thread is entitled "the face of Keats". The picture is on pg. 2 of the thread down toward the bottom. It isn't the *best* scan (I apologize) but it gets the idea across. In addition, there is the silhouette of Keats done by Mrs. Hunt while he was staying with them in the summer of 1820. The thread, itself, contains many interesting images of Keats--some common, some hard to find.

Re: Letter to Charles Brown, September 1820.

PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2010 4:00 pm
by Raphael
Malia wrote:OK, I've found it and posted to it so you can easily see the thread. It is in the "life and letters" forum and should now be just below this thread. The thread is entitled "the face of Keats". The picture is on pg. 2 of the thread down toward the bottom. It isn't the *best* scan (I apologize) but it gets the idea across. In addition, there is the silhouette of Keats done by Mrs. Hunt while he was staying with them in the summer of 1820. The thread, itself, contains many interesting images of Keats--some common, some hard to find.


Just seen it and replied to you on, thank you dear Malia. I would never known it was dear John at all if you hadn't told me- such short hair- not like him at all. It must have been for his journey as you said- probably against the conditions of the ship ( dirt, lice etc).He didn't look too thin there though.I've seen the silhouette before.What's your favourite image/s of him? Mine are :
the Hilton portrait
The Severn drawing ( my avatar)
and Haydon's life mask.

Re: Letter to Charles Brown, September 1820.

PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2010 4:06 pm
by Malia
Though I've said it many times before over the years on this forum, I *still* love the Haydon sketch of Keats the most. It captures both the energy and the beauty of his features making him look neither too masculine nor too feminine. My second favorite is the Brown sketch, as I'm sure it was a fairly realistic portrait of him--Brown was known to be a "literal copyist" and it does not sentimentalize him, unlike so many other portraits of him. Also, both of my favorites were drawn from life and were occasional portraits--done either as a sketch for a much larger work not related to Keats, or done just for fun--neither artist, I believe, thought "oh my gosh, I really have to draw Keats for posterity because he's going to die soon"--so there is no "pressure" underlying their works.