Abbie Cornish and Ben Whishaw depicting Brawne and Keats in Bright Star 2009
Who hasn't kept old love letters, tucked away in a box or diary, waiting to be peeled back and reveal all those feelings from what feels like a hundred years ago bringing a smile to you face and a side of yourself you had perhaps forgotten. But why do we keep them? Is it nostalgia? Or perhaps not being able to let go of a period of time? Plenty of people I know destroy them as soon as the relationship is over. I, on the otherhand, find something comforting and romantic in knowing that in 60 years time I may well stumble across old letters from a different time and opening them again will be like meeting my old self again. I also like to think my that should my children ever discover any old correspondence of mine it will intoduce them to a side of me the may have never known existed: and it's always exciting to realise your parents were at one point something other than just your parents!
The correspondence between John Keats and Fanny Brawne are among the most famous love letters ever writen. They commenced when the pair met as neighbours and continued until he left for Rome in 1820: He never returned, dying of Tuberculosis in February 1821.
Some would say Fanny Brawne kept her letters from John Keats, the famous poet, so her children could profit from their sale once she had passed away as she had witnessed his reputation grow since he had died at the age of just 25. The romantic in me wants to believe she kept his letters and shared them with her children simply as a reminder of possibly the greatest love of her life, after all they were engaged to marry. After the news of his death she remained in mourning for six years: that is a sign of one truly heartbroken woman! Keats wrote so many notes and letters to his beloved that I am still working my way through them all but one I'd like to share one of my favourites with you.
To Fanny Browne 13 October 1819
25 College Street
My dearest Girl,
This moment I have set myself to copy some verses out fair. I cannot proceed with any degree of content. I must write you a line or two and see if that will assist in dismissing you from my Mind for ever so short a time. Upon my Soul I can think of nothing else - The time is passed when I had power to advise and warn you again[s]t the unpromising morning of my Life - My love has made me selfish. I cannot exist without you - I am forgetful of every thing but seeing you again - my Life seems to stop there - I see no further. You have absorb'd me. I have a sensation at the present moment as though I was dissolving - I should be exquisitely miserable without the hope of soon seeing you. I should be afraid to separate myself far from you. My sweet Fanny, will your heart never change? My love, will it? I have no limit now to my love - You note came in just here - I cannot be happier away from you - 'T is richer than an Argosy of Pearles. Do not threat me even in jest. I have been astonished that Men could die Martyrs for religion - I have shudder'd at it - I shudder no more - I could be martyr'd for my Religion - Love is my religion - I could die for that - I could die for you. My Creed is Love and you are its only tenet - You have ravish'd me away by a Power I cannot resist: and yet I could resist till I saw you; and even since I have seen you I have endeavoured often "to reason against the reasons of my Love." I can do that no more - the pain would be too great - My Love is selfish - I cannot breathe without you.
Yours for ever
It is just so beautiful. Anyone feel like grabbing a pen and paper instead of an email or text now?!...