Ode To Fanny
- PHYSICIAN Nature! Let my spirit blood!
- O ease my heart of verse and let me rest;
- Throw me upon thy Tripod, till the flood
- Of stifling numbers ebbs from my full breast.
- A theme! a theme! great nature! give a theme;
- Let me begin my dream.
- I come -- I see thee, as thou standest there,
- Beckon me not into the wintry air.
- Ah! dearest love, sweet home of all my fears,
- And hopes, and joys, and panting miseries, --
- To-night, if I may guess, thy beauty wears
- A smile of such delight,
- As brilliant and as bright,
- As when with ravished, aching, vassal eyes,
- Lost in soft amaze,
- I gaze, I gaze!
- Who now, with greedy looks, eats up my feast?
- What stare outfaces now my silver moon!
- Ah! keep that hand unravished at the least;
- Let, let, the amorous burn --
- But pr'ythee, do not turn
- The current of your heart from me so soon.
- O! save, in charity,
- The quickest pulse for me.
- Save it for me, sweet love! though music breathe
- Voluptuous visions into the warm air;
- Though swimming through the dance's dangerous wreath,
- Be like an April day,
- Smiling and cold and gay,
- A temperate lilly, temperate as fair;
- Then, Heaven! there will be
- A warmer June for me.
- Why, this, you'll say, my Fanny! is not true:
- Put your soft hand upon your snowy side,
- Where the heart beats: confess -- 'tis nothing new --
- Must not a woman be
- A feather on the sea,
- Sway'd to and fro by every wind and tide?
- Of as uncertain speed
- As blow-ball from the mead?
- I know it -- and to know it is despair
- To one who loves you as I love, sweet Fanny!
- Whose heart goes fluttering for you every where,
- Nor, when away you roam,
- Dare keep its wretched home,
- Love, love alone, his pains severe and many:
- Then, loveliest! keep me free,
- From torturing jealousy.
- Ah! if you prize my subdued soul above
- The poor, the fading, brief, pride of an hour;
- Let none profane my Holy See of love,
- Or with a rude hand break
- The sacramental cake:
- Let none else touch the just new-budded flower;
- If not -- may my eyes close,
- Love! on their lost repose.
- John Keats (1795-1821)
One of the most appealing and gifted English poets in the nineteenth century Keats was a seminal figure of the romantic
movement. At the age of 15 he was apprenticed to a surgeon studying medicine from 1814 to 1816 in the hospitals of London, became licensed in 1816 as an apothecary
but decided to become a poet, never practising his profession.
This poem is from The Poetical Works of John Keats: Oxford Standard Authors Edition published in 1908. In the first stanza Keats is calling on nature to relieve his distress by allowing his excess of spirit to flow out as verse and the first line refers to the art of blood letting a common practice in medicine of the day. Sometimes it was done with leeches or by opening a vein, and the process was called "letting blood".
The rest of the poem is a fanciful description of the turbulent relationship he had with a young woman by the name of Fanny Brawne (1801-1865) with whom he had fallen passionately in love. Rich in imagery and phrasing it depicts their passionate attachment as one that was marked by mutual cruelties, temper tantrums, and jealousy. Many of Keats's poems are based on his love and difficulties with Fanny. In 1820 Keats became ill with tuberculosis and perhaps the illness was aggravated by the emotional strain of his devotion. The most revealing lines are in the sixth stanza: keep me free/From torturing jealousy, for this is a passion that greatly afflicted Keats in his short life. Nevertheless, the period between 1818 and 1820 was one of great creativity for the poet. Keats's wrote many letters to Fanny that she kept even after his death and her subsequent marriage. Keats's letters to Fanny are difficult to read not because they show Keats in a bad light, although they do, but because we know things are not going to work out right. She handed them down to her children, which leads into another poem by Oscar Wilde in this story found here. In the fall of 1820 Keats went to the warmer climes of Rome under his physician's orders where he died on February 23, 1821.
Bram, Robert Philips, Norma H. Dicky, "Keats,John," Funk & Wagnalls New Encyclopedia , 1988.
Public domain text taken from The Poets’ Corner: