The moment I set my eyes upon it, I was already falling.
With each turned page, I found myself privy to the most intimate thoughts, the purest feelings, the greenest envies. I was in a world devoid of images. My eyesight had no function here. Nor did my hearing. It was all about the heart. About that warm feeling in your gut, that hot churning of something bittersweet. And I kept falling and falling, taking in all of their hopes,
I was falling. And they were too.
We were falling in love.
This little book gave me power over the hearts of all the greatest writers. They bared their feelings to their loved ones on a rough parchment with a drop of ink. They sent it back. And forth. And on and on, not knowing that this exchange was going to get recorded in eternity and some years later, in my mind too.
Their love lives. In between these pages. These pages that I hold close and dear.
But enough about my intoxication with these beautiful words and destruction at the hands of these star-crossed lovers. Why don’t you take a look by yourself and see what fires they carried in the loud beating of their palm-sized hearts?
John Keats to Fanny Brawne
[Wednesday, 13 October 1819]
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 against the unpromising morning of my Life. My love has made me selfish. I cannot exist without you. I am forgetful of everything 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 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 – Your note came in just here – I cannot be happier away from you. ‘Tis 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 ever since I have seen you I have endeavored 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,
Can you imagine anything more intimate?
Keats’ hopelessness against the intensity of his emotions empowers his words, electrifies them. I can see him now, with his heart on his sleeve and his throat unable to even whisper, writing away – his joy and despair mingling with each other. I can taste his impatience with my eyes. I can see his eyes tingling with tears, in remembrance of a sweet face and an even sweeter kiss.
These letters aren’t just pieces of paper with words written on them. They are testaments to their devotion, the humbling of their great minds.
Let’s cherish them, shall we? As much as we can. as long as we can.