The Letters of John Keats

By Maurice Buxton Forman; John Keats | Go to book overview

or else I think this line a feast for one of your Lovers-- How goes it with Brown?

Your sincere friend
John Keats--


87. To JOHN HAMILTON REYNOLDS. 〈Tuesday 22 Sept.

1818?〉1

My dear Reynolds,

Believe me I have rather rejoiced in your happiness than fretted at your silence. Indeed I am grieved on your account that I am not at the same time happy--But I conjure you to think at present of nothing but pleasure "Gather the rose, &C."2--Gorge the honey of life. I pity you as much that it cannot last for ever, as I do myself now drinking bitters.--Give yourself up to it--you cannot help it--and I have a consolation in thinking so. I never was in love--yet the voice and the shape of a Woman3 has haunted me these two days--at such a time when the relief, the feverous relief of Poetry seems a much less crime --This morning Poetry has conquered--I have relapsed into those abstractions which are my only life--I feel escaped from a new strange and threatening sorrow.--and I am thankful for it.4--There is an awful warmth about my heart like a load of Immortality.

____________________
1
Woodhouse notes 'no date, or place, or postmark'.
2
Ausonius ( 'Idyll.' XIV, l. 49) has

Collige, virgo, rosas dum flos novus et nova pubes.

and Tasso (' Gerusalemme Liberata, XVI. 15, l. 7) has

Cogliam d'amor la rosa.

Burton ( 'Anatomy of Melancholy', Pt. III, Sec. II, Mem. 5. Sub. 5) quotes Ausonius, and Keats in his copy of the book ( Dilke Collection) added in the margin

'Cogliam. la rosa d'amorè'

followed by 'ubique' underlined. So his 'Gather the rose, &c.' is rather Tasso than Herrick ('Gather ye rosebuds while ye may').

3
The lady here referred to was Miss Jane Cox, a cousin of the Reynoldses. Not being pleased with Reynolds's sisters in this connexion, as will be seen from Letter 94, pp. 232-3, Keats's natural delicacy would prevent his saying who the woman was.
4
It must have been very soon after this that Keats met Fanny Brawne; for, in the annotated copy of the Life, Letters, &c. frequently referred to, C. W. Dilke records that about October or November 1818 Keats 'met Miss Brawne for the first time at my house. Brown let his house when he and Keats went to Scotland to Mrs. Brawne, a

-217-

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