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Poem from Tom Keats to His Brother John

PostPosted: Mon Mar 20, 2006 8:56 pm
by Malia
I recently read through a book of biographical poetry written about Keats from the perspective of his family and friends and I was kind of disheartened to find that no poems were written from the perspective of his beloved brother Tom.

Tom really had an influence on Keats--both personally and poetically. Most scholars believe that Tom was the inspiration (at least in part) for Ode to a Nightingale and La Belle Dame. In letters to his brothers, Keats directly addressed Tom much more than he addressed George and George said Tom knew Keats better than anyone else--including George, himself.

With all that in mind--and the fact that I find Tom a great character in-and-of himself--I decided to try my hand at a poem from his perspective.

The poem is set in the summer of 1818 when Keats is on his walking tour of Scotland and Tom is alone at Well Walk. The only contact he has with his brother is through Keats's letters to him describing his journey with Brown.

To My Brother John, Summer 1818.

The summer sun slips into crimson sleep
And as night's first star wakes with watchful eye,
I reach for your letter and once more find
My mind to yours joined in communion deep;
Conquering crag, cavern and mountain steep;
Rising above thick mists that churn the sky
To take new wings and feel our spirits fly
Far from this world where men are born to weep.
Life, like firelight flickers and is gone.
Darkness deepens, yet death cannot destroy
The Beauty that lives in your lyric song,
Nor break my spirit with its fearful ploy.
For through your words, dear brother, I live on.
You have claimed for me an undying joy.

PostPosted: Tue Mar 21, 2006 11:32 am
by Despondence
I gather you'll be cited as co-author on the 2nd revised edition then.. ;)
I like it; feels very contemplative, had to read it several times and try to imagine how Tom might speak to John in a poem. I don't know that I have anything to go on, to get inside Tom's mind, but your interpretation reads very nicely.

PostPosted: Tue Mar 21, 2006 5:37 pm
by Discovery
Nice work! I especially like the first eight lines, somehow they just work better for me. Line 4 really gets across what you were saying George had said about them being very close. Do the last two lines refer to Tom having been his possible inspiration for 'Ode to a Nightingale' and 'La Belle Dame Sans Merci'?
Again, nice work I liked it!

PostPosted: Tue Mar 21, 2006 9:51 pm
by Malia
Thanks guys! :) I'm glad you liked it.

Nathaniel, I agree with you--the first 8 lines are a lot better than the rest of the poem. I tell ya, it's tough making that transition in the middle of a sonnet--and trying to find three decent rhymes for "oy" was well nigh impossible for this beginner! :lol:

I've got to hand it to all you real poets out there! Writing poetry is NOT easy.

PostPosted: Wed Mar 22, 2006 12:40 pm
by Fortuna
That was just beautiful. From the small details I know of Tom Keats, this poem captured how I envisioned him. If the real Tom was as a talented writer as you are Malia, I believe his death would have been a tragic loss for the poetic world indeed. :)

Re: Poem from Tom Keats to His Brother John

PostPosted: Wed Mar 22, 2006 12:56 pm
by Saturn
Malia wrote:To My Brother John, Summer 1818.

The summer sun slips into crimson sleep
And as night's first star wakes with watchful eye,
I reach for your letter and once more find
My mind to yours joined in communion deep;
Conquering craig, cavern and mountain steep;
Rising above thick mists that churn the sky
To take new wings and feel our spirits fly
Far from this world where men are born to weep.
Life, like firelight flickers and is gone.
Darkness deepens, yet death cannot destroy
The Beauty that lives in your lyric song,
Nor break my spirit with its fearful ploy.
For through your words, dear brother, I live on.
You have claimed for me an undying joy.


Wonderful Malia - that's really good I mean that. One little mistake I noticed [being the insufferable pedant I am] :

"Conquering craig, cavern and mountain steep..."

Though you could be even more cunning if you've worked into that line a reference to Ailsa Craig which Keats saw in his travels :wink:

If so apologies for my denseness :?

PostPosted: Wed Mar 22, 2006 6:55 pm
by Malia
Thanks Fortuna and Saturn for your comments. I'm glad you enjoyed it and that it sounded realistic--in that it fits the "character" of Tom. . .the little that we know of him.

Saturn, I must be pretty dense myself because I don't understand your comment regarding "craig"--did I spell it wrong? Or was it that "Alisa Craig" would sound better?

Sorry I'm so confused--I mean, I *did* almost address you as Severn in a separate post this morning. Oh, where did my latte go? I need it! Hmm. . .perhaps that's a new theme for another poem! :lol:

PostPosted: Wed Mar 22, 2006 11:02 pm
by Saturn
Did you not mean to write/type 'crag' not 'craig'.

Unless I'm missing something and the US spelling of this word is different?

Hmm - I've dug for myself a little pedantic hole in my imagination.

Will someone please drop down the ladder of common-sense?

:wink:

PostPosted: Wed Mar 22, 2006 11:05 pm
by Malia
Ah! OK, now I understand. My spelling was probably wrong. Thanks for catching it--as I'm not the greatest speller in the world (Kinda like our man Keats! I may not have his genious, but at least I have *something* in common with him :lol: )

Mahalo for the clarification :)

PostPosted: Wed Mar 22, 2006 11:52 pm
by Saturn
My anally-retentive nature strikes again :shock:

PostPosted: Thu Mar 23, 2006 5:06 am
by Credo Buffa
Lovely, Malia!