JOHN KEATS' DEATHBED VISION OF FANNY BRAWNE

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JOHN KEATS' DEATHBED VISION OF FANNY BRAWNE

Postby steffen » Mon Jan 25, 2010 5:01 am

My dearest, my once-bright star:
Would you were wholly aware
of how your everpresence,
the persistence of the vision of you,
penetrates every fold and furrow
of the obscene rags and scraps
of this, my posthumous life.

No more than a rivulet,
this presence of yours,
sometimes puddling,
then welling up again
to thread its way
through the underwood
of the twisted twigs and branches
of my mind, my all, my everything.

It nudges and murmurs
in an obscure, jumbled syntax
stirring half-remembered intimacies
of the sight, the sweet-basil-scent,
the touch, the feel, the taste of you.

But in the afterglow of those bright days
dark residues of covert treachery and betrayal
float up from the troubled pools of memory,
and I have learned,
as I lie here alone with the Dryads,
that what is known can never be unknown,
and yet what has been seems yet to be,
but barren and stripped of life,
full of the boundless mystery of loss.
Last edited by steffen on Tue Nov 06, 2012 3:05 am, edited 11 times in total.
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Re: JOHN KEATS' DEATHBED VISION OF FANNY BRAWNE

Postby BrokenLyre » Mon Jan 25, 2010 5:37 am

Thank you steffen for your wonderful and creative poem. I really liked the perspective of Keats reflecting on Fanny in his last days. I have often wondered the same - and you put it in such terse terms with reference to his odes, his early works ("rivulet" from "After Dark Vapors"), longer poems, his letters and even with his own neologisms ("feel" as a noun). Not sure if you were aware of all this - but it put me in a different "mental space" as I read it. I enjoyed the sense quite a bit and even your play on Keats' synesthesia ("of the sight, the sweet-basil-scent"). Remarkable.
"Come... dry your eyes, for you are life, rarer than a quark and unpredictable beyond the dreams of Heisenberg; the clay in which the forces that shape all things leave their fingerprints most clearly. Dry your eyes... and let's go home."
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Re: JOHN KEATS' DEATHBED VISION OF FANNY BRAWNE

Postby LadyBrawne » Sat Jan 30, 2010 10:51 pm



Your Poem transcended me back to the time and place of Keats, as if his spirit lives in you,
beautiful words, I felt as though he were alive again, breathing throughout your poetry,
I look forward to reading more of your work.

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Re: JOHN KEATS' DEATHBED VISION OF FANNY BRAWNE

Postby steffen » Sun Jan 31, 2010 1:44 am

Thank you so much, LadyBrawne, for your appreciation of my poem. "Steffen" is, in reality, a vain old man and much moved by your words. But Keats is always young and very much alive, deathless in the face of vast time and space, like the Grecian urn which he so well pondered and contemplated :
"When old age shall this generation waste,
Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe
Than ours, a friend to man . . ."
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Re: JOHN KEATS' DEATHBED VISION OF FANNY BRAWNE

Postby Raphael » Wed Feb 10, 2010 4:47 pm

I liked it too- keep them coming!
John....you did not live to see-
who we are because of what you left,
what it is we are in what we make of you.

Peter Sanson, 1995.
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Re: JOHN KEATS' DEATHBED VISION OF FANNY BRAWNE

Postby steffen » Sun Feb 14, 2010 5:21 pm

Thanks, Rafael; Isn't it dumbfounding that the man who wrote Ode on a Grecian Urn, should have died two years later in such obcene, humiliating circumstances? Keats must have dicovered on contemplating that "unravished bride of quietness, ----foster-child of Silence and slowTime", the enduring BEAUTY that confirmed him in his characteristic belief that Beauty is the all-important element in human experience. From him we learn that "Beauty is Truth, Truth beauty" and "that is all / Ye need to know on earth, and all ye need to /know". Beauty is what defines the man and his poetry. And now we stand here in his shoes, wondering, wondering. . .
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Re: JOHN KEATS' DEATHBED VISION OF FANNY BRAWNE

Postby PaulW » Wed Feb 17, 2010 1:13 pm

i'd like to add...i very much like your poem, too.
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Re: JOHN KEATS' DEATHBED VISION OF FANNY BRAWNE

Postby steffen » Sun Feb 21, 2010 10:45 pm

Thank you, PaulW. To tell the truth, I kind'a like it too.
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Re: JOHN KEATS' DEATHBED VISION OF FANNY BRAWNE

Postby Raphael » Tue Mar 16, 2010 3:36 pm

Thanks, Rafael; Isn't it dumbfounding that the man who wrote Ode on a Grecian Urn, should have died two years later in such obcene, humiliating circumstances?


Obscene and humiliating indeed- if anyone didn't deserve this it was him. :cry:


Keats must have dicovered on contemplating that "unravished bride of quietness, ----foster-child of Silence and slowTime", the enduring BEAUTY that confirmed him in his characteristic belief that Beauty is the all-important element in human experience. From him we learn that "Beauty is Truth, Truth beauty" and "that is all / Ye need to know on earth, and all ye need to /know". Beauty is what defines the man and his poetry.


Yes- he wrote beauty, created beauty; he himself was Beautiful.


And now we stand here in his shoes, wondering, wondering. . .


:D
John....you did not live to see-
who we are because of what you left,
what it is we are in what we make of you.

Peter Sanson, 1995.
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Re: JOHN KEATS' DEATHBED VISION OF FANNY BRAWNE

Postby steffen » Tue Mar 16, 2010 8:49 pm

Raphael, let me respond to your post by quoting the 3rd stanza of the poem -To John Keats, Poet, At Spring Time - by the Harlem-born Afro-American poet , Countee Cullen, kindly posted by Malia on this site's thread, Poems to Keats. You must have read it, but it merits being shown here as it beautifully relates to what we said and felt in our posts: The "Wild voice" and "Vision Splendid" of John Keats, written "on the broad sweet page of the earth".

To John Keats, Poet, At Spring Time

And you and I, shall we lie still,
John Keats, while beauty summons us?
Somehow I feel your sensitive will
Is pushing up some tremulous
Sap road of a maple tree, whose leaves
Grow music as they grow, since your
Wild voice is in them, a harp that grieves
For life that opens death's dark door.
Though dust, your fingers still can push
The Vision Splendid to a birth,
Though now they work as grass in the hush
Of the night on the broad sweet page of the earth.

By Countee Cullen
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________
I am the grass, I cover all. I am the grass, let me work.
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Re: JOHN KEATS' DEATHBED VISION OF FANNY BRAWNE

Postby Raphael » Fri Mar 19, 2010 12:13 pm

steffen wrote:Raphael, let me respond to your post by quoting the 3rd stanza of the poem -To John Keats, Poet, At Spring Time - by the Harlem-born Afro-American poet , Countee Cullen, kindly posted by Malia on this site's thread, Poems to Keats. You must have read it, but it merits being shown here as it beautifully relates to what we said and felt in our posts: The "Wild voice" and "Vision Splendid" of John Keats, written "on the broad sweet page of the earth".

To John Keats, Poet, At Spring Time

And you and I, shall we lie still,
John Keats, while beauty summons us?
Somehow I feel your sensitive will
Is pushing up some tremulous
Sap road of a maple tree, whose leaves
Grow music as they grow, since your
Wild voice is in them, a harp that grieves
For life that opens death's dark door.
Though dust, your fingers still can push
The Vision Splendid to a birth,
Though now they work as grass in the hush
Of the night on the broad sweet page of the earth.

By Countee Cullen
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________
I am the grass, I cover all. I am the grass, let me work.



That is truly a special poem! I've just looked Countee up online- an American Romantic poet- how cool! I didn't know there was a romantic poet tradition over the Atlantic. But then, I've never claimed to know much about poetry- never been that into it- it was Oscar Wilde and Junkets turned me onto poetry! Of course, though, I always liked Shakespeare's sonnets.


Oooh see this one by Countee:

For a Poet

I have wrapped my dreams in a silken cloth,
And laid them away in a box of gold;
Where long will cling the lips of the moth,
I have wrapped my dreams in a silken cloth;
I hide no hate; I am not even wroth
Who found earth's breath so keen and cold;
I have wrapped my dreams in a silken cloth,
And laid them away in a box of gold.


It brings to mind for me Fanny B's box of letters from John to her.


And this one:

The Loss of Love

All through an empty place I go,
And find her not in any room;
The candles and the lamps I light
Go down before a wind of gloom.

Thick-spraddled lies the dust about,
A fit, sad place to write her name
Or draw her face the way she looked
That legendary night she came.


The old house crumbles bit by bit;
Each day I hear the ominous thud
That says another rent is there
For winds to pierce and storms to flood.


My orchards groan and sag with fruit;
Where, Indian-wise, the bees go round;
I let it rot upon the bough;
I eat what falls upon the ground.


The heavy cows go laboring
In agony with clotted teats;
My hands are slack; my blood is cold;
I marvel that my heart still beats.


I have no will to weep or sing,
No least desire to pray or curse;
The loss of love is a terrible thing;
They lie who say that death is worse.


The last two stanzas have echoes of John Keats. Very poignant. I'm glad you told me about this American poet.Thanks!
John....you did not live to see-
who we are because of what you left,
what it is we are in what we make of you.

Peter Sanson, 1995.
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Re: JOHN KEATS' DEATHBED VISION OF FANNY BRAWNE

Postby steffen » Sat Mar 20, 2010 12:12 pm

Raphael: Speaking of influences, and it may be just pure coincidence, but just look at this poem by William Butler Yeats (rich fare) and then compare it with Countee Cullen's poem which begins "I have wrapped my dreams in a silken cloth / And laid them away in a box of gold (Cullen's dreams had already been "tread on" and so he has put them away). . . :

HE WISHES FOR THE CLOTHS OF HEAVEN

Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

(THE WIND AMONG THE REEDS, 1899 W. B. Yeats)

And then there's the two-line poem by Emily Dickinson, PARTING, which reads:

Parting is all we know of heaven,
And all we need to know of hell.

Sound familiar?
Last edited by steffen on Tue Apr 06, 2010 11:07 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: JOHN KEATS' DEATHBED VISION OF FANNY BRAWNE

Postby Raphael » Mon Mar 22, 2010 3:18 pm

I see what you mean...it will probably sound a bit "mystical" or crazy ( I don't know what you think of such things..) to you..but I'll say it anyway- these poets I think are linking in an experience wider than themselves, so that's why they sometimes come up with similar things.
John....you did not live to see-
who we are because of what you left,
what it is we are in what we make of you.

Peter Sanson, 1995.
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Re: JOHN KEATS' DEATHBED VISION OF FANNY BRAWNE

Postby steffen » Thu Mar 25, 2010 4:54 pm

And I see what you mean and share in your thinking when you write: "These poets I think are linking in an experience wider than themselves, so that's why they come up with similar things".

Just read this section from W.B. Yeats' essay, The Philosphy of Shelly's Poetry, which can be found in its entirety at http://www.yeatsvision.com/Shelley.html. It verifies your thoughts on the subject of influences, and very "mystical" ones. You're in good company.

The Philosophy of Shellys Poetry
W.B. Yeats (1900)

...for though Adonais has fled `to the burning fountain whence he came´ and `is a portion of the eternal which must glow through time and change, unquenchably the same,´ and has awakened from the dream of life, `he has not gone from the `young dawn´ or the caverns and the forests or the `faint flowers and fountains´. He has been made `one with Nature´, and his voice is heard in all her music´, and his presence is felt wherever `that Power may move which has withdrawn his being to its own´ and he bears `his part´when it is compelling mortal things to their appointed forms, and he overshadows men's minds, at their supreme moments, for ----

. . .When lofty thought
Lifts a young heart above its mortal lair,
And love and life contend in it, for what
Shall be its earthly doom, the dead live there,
And move like winds of light on dark and stormy air.

(ADONAIS, XLIV)
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Re: JOHN KEATS' DEATHBED VISION OF FANNY BRAWNE

Postby Raphael » Fri Mar 26, 2010 2:24 am

And I see what you mean and share in your thinking when you write: "These poets I think are linking in an experience wider than themselves, so that's why they come up with similar things".


I don't quite understand it but it seems so doesn't it?


Just read this section from W.B. Yeats' essay, The Philosphy of Shelly's Poetry, which can be found in its entirety at http://www.yeatsvision.com/Shelley.html. It verifies your thoughts on the subject of influences, and very "mystical" ones. You're in good company.



That was very interesting- thanks for that- I am not very familiar with Shelleys' poetry. I didn't expect any of it to be mystical as I know he was an athiest and thought he wouldn't be into that- I thought he disliked religion and mysticism.
I wonder if he believed in an afterlife of sorts then?
John....you did not live to see-
who we are because of what you left,
what it is we are in what we make of you.

Peter Sanson, 1995.
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