Monday, February 15, 2010

Bright Star

Finally watched Bright Star last night. What a sad, sad, short life Keats lived. And he felt he was a failure when he died - asked that his tombstone not have his name, but, instead, say 'here lies one whose name was writ in water.' The last words of the last letter he wrote (to Charles Browne from Italy on Nov 30 before his death in Feb 1821) were:" I can scarcely bid you goodbye, even in a letter. I always made an awkward bow."

And yet, he wrote Ode to Autum, which many consider to be the best poem ever written in the English Language.

And Fanny Brawne? She married 13 years after Keats' death to a man 12 years her senior. She was survived by 3 children when she died in her 60's. She left behind the letters Keats had written her.

Ode to Autumn

SEASON of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees, 5
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease; 10
For Summer has o'erbrimm'd their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind; 15
Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twinèd flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook; 20
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings, hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
While barrèd clouds bloom the soft-dying day 25
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river-sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn; 30
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

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