John Keats was very conflicted when it came to love; on the one hand, he believed, as he wrote in the introduction to Endymion Book 2 that love is the universal language of poetry, and thereby the most beautiful and meaningful thing in the world. However, when it came to real life, he was much more skeptical. He had watched his bachelor friends give up their dreams and aspirations to marry and keep a job, and he was absolutely certain not to fall into the same trap, which would, of course, have meant actually practicing medicine, which he had long avoided.

This sonnet denouncing love was written, probably towards the end of 1818, right about the time he met and fell in love with Fanny Brawne. Her influence was to dominate the rest of his life. He did numerous times consider giving up poetry for medicine so that they might marry, but his illness prevented any real decision from being made until it was too late.

And what is love? It is a doll dress'd up

And what is love? It is a doll dress'd up
For idleness to cosset, nurse, and dandle;
A thing of soft misnomers, so divine
That silly youth doth think to make itself
Divine by loving, nad so goes on
Yawning and doting a whole summer long,
Till Miss's comb is made a perfect tiara,
And common Wellingtons turn Romeo boots;
Then Cleopatra lives at number seven,
And Antony resides in Brunswick Square.
Fools! if some passions high have warm'd the world,
If Queens and Soldiers have play'd deep for hearts,
It is no reason why such agonies
Should be more common than the growth of weeds.
Fools! make me whole again that weighty pearl
The Queen of Egypt melted, and I'll say
That ye may love in spite of beaver hats.

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