22 February 2006

a letter from John Keats

People say, “Read Keats’s letters.” Here’s an example of why:

I made up my Mind to stop in doors, and catch a sight flying between the showers; and behold I saw a pretty valley—pretty cliffs, pretty Brooks, pretty Meadows, pretty trees, both standing as they were created, and blown down as they are uncreated—The green is beautiful, as they say, and pity it is that it is amphibious—mais! but alas! the flowers here wait as naturally for the rain twice a day as the Muscles do for the Tide. . . . I’ll cavern you, and grotto you, and waterfall you, and wood you, and water you, and immense-rock you, and tremendous sound you, and solitude you. Ill make a lodgment on your glacis by a row of Pines, and storm your covered way with bramble Bushes. Ill have at you with hip and haw smallshot, and cannonade you with Shingles—Ill be witty upon salt fish, and impede your cavalry with clotted cream. But ah Coward! to talk at this rate to a sick man, or I hope to one that was sick—for I hope by this you stand on your right foot.—If you are not—that’s all,—I intend to cut all sick people if they do not make up their minds to cut sickness—a fellow to whom I have a complete aversion, and who strange to say is harboured and countenanced in several houses where I visit—he is sitting now quite impudent between me and Tom—He insults me at poor Jem Rice’s—and you have seated him before now between us at the Theatre—where I thought he look’d with a longing eye at poor Kean. I shall say, once for all, to my friends generally and severally, cut that fellow, or I cut you—I went to the Theatre here the other night, which I forgot to tell George, and got insulted, which I ought to remember to forget to tell any body; for I did not fight, and as yet have had no redress—‘Lie thou there, sweetheart!’ damme who’s afraid—for I had owed him so long; however, he shall see I will be better in future. Is he in Town yet? I have directed to Oxford as the better chance. I have copied my fourth Book, and shall write the preface soon. I wish it was all done; for I want to forget it and make my mind free for something new—Atkins the Coachman, Bartlet the Surgeon, Simmons the Barber, and the Girls over at the Bonnet shop say we shall now have a Month of seasonable Weather. warm, witty, and full of invention—Write to me and tell me you are well or thereabouts, or by the holy Beaucoeur,—which I suppose is the virgin Mary, or the repented Magdalen, (beautiful name, that Magdalen) Ill take to my Wings and fly away to any where but old or Nova Scotia—I wish I had a little innocent bit of Metaphysic in my head, to criss-cross this letter: but you know a favorite tune is hardest to be remembered when one wants it most and you, I know, have long ere this taken it for granted that I never have any speculations without associating you in them, where they are of a pleasant nature and you know enough to me to tell the places where I haunt most, so that if you think for five minutes after you have read this you will find it a long letter and see written in the Air above you,

Your most affectionate friend
                                       John Keats

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