John Keats (1795 – 1821) led a short but brilliant life. At the age of 23 he met and fell in love with Fanny Brawne, literally the girl next door. Tragically, doctors had already diagnosed the tuberculosis which would eventually kill him, so their marriage became an impossibility. This letter, written from Rome less than one year before his death, displays Keats’ intense and unwavering love for her.
You fear, sometimes, I do not love you so much as you wish? My dear Girl I love you ever and ever and without reserve. The more I have known you the more have I lov’d. In every way – even my jealousies have been agonies of Love, in the hottest fit I ever had I would have died for you. I have vex’d you too much. But for Love! Can I help it? You are always new. The last of your kisses was ever the sweetest; the last smile the brightest; the last movement the gracefullest. When you pass’d my window home yesterday, I was fill’d with as much admiration as if I had then seen you for the first time. You uttered a half complaint once that I only lov’d your Beauty. Have I nothing else then to love in you but that? Do not I see a heart naturally furnish’d with wings imprison itself with me? No ill prospect has been able to turn your thoughts a moment from me. This perhaps should be as much a subject of sorrow as joy – but I will not talk of that. Even if you did not love me I could not help an entire devotion to you: how much more deeply then must I feel for you knowing you love me. My Mind has been the most discontented and restless one that ever was put into a body too small for it. I never felt my Mind repose upon anything with complete and undistracted enjoyment – upon no person but you. When you are in the room my thoughts never fly out of window: you always concentrate my whole senses. The anxiety shown about our Love in your last note is an immense pleasure to me; however you must not suffer such speculations to molest you any more: not will I any more believe you can have the least pique against me. Brown is gone out — but here is Mrs Wylie — when she is gone I shall be awake for you. — Remembrances to your Mother.
Your affectionate, J. Keats
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