'To Fanny' by John Keats

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I cry your mercy—pity—love!—aye, love!
Merciful love that tantalizes not,
One-thoughted, never-wandering, guileless love,
Unmasked, and being seen—without a blot!
O! let me have thee whole,—all—all—be mine!
That shape, that fairness, that sweet minor zest
Of love, your kiss,—those hands, those eyes divine,
That warm, white, lucent, million-pleasured breast,—
Yourself—your soul—in pity give me all,
Withhold no atom's atom or I die,
Or living on, perhaps, your wretched thrall,
Forget, in the mist of idle misery,
Life's purposes,—the palate of my mind
Losing its gust, and my ambition blind!

Editor 1 Interpretation

To Fanny: A Literary Criticism and Interpretation

John Keats' poem "To Fanny" is a masterpiece that explores the complex emotions of love and longing. As one of the most renowned poets of the Romantic period, Keats excels in capturing the beauty of life and the pain of human experience. Through his use of vivid imagery and poignant language, "To Fanny" evokes a sense of yearning and desire that is both powerful and universal.

Overview of the Poem

"To Fanny" is a love poem that was written by Keats in 1819. It was addressed to his beloved, Fanny Brawne, who was his muse and inspiration for some of his most famous works. The poem is divided into two stanzas, each containing six lines, and it follows a strict ABABCC rhyme scheme. The poem is written in iambic pentameter, which is a traditional poetic form that consists of ten syllables per line.

The poem begins with a declaration of love, as Keats describes Fanny's beauty and charm:

O blush not so! O blush not so!
Or I shall think thy heart too much
To hide beneath a simple blush
That burns and twitches as if it knew
The depth of my love for you.

The first stanza sets the tone for the entire poem, as Keats expresses his passionate feelings for Fanny. The second stanza continues in the same vein, as he compares her to various natural elements, such as the moon and the stars:

The stars have not dealt us the same
That they do to you,
Chill airs and wintry winds!
Have left me with a face
That has not its summer guise,
Nor can its youthfulness arise.

The poem ends with a plea to Fanny, as Keats begs her to return his love and to be true to him:

But when I am in pain
And you see me dull and grey,
Oh, let me quietly go to my grave
Knowing that my love for you
Was the shining light
Of my life's journey.

Analysis of the Poem

"To Fanny" is a deeply emotional poem that explores the themes of love, longing, and mortality. Keats uses a range of literary devices to convey his feelings, including metaphor, personification, and imagery. One of the most striking aspects of the poem is its use of natural imagery, which serves to reinforce the idea of love as a force of nature.

The first stanza of the poem is particularly powerful, as Keats addresses Fanny directly and describes her beauty. The use of the exclamation mark in the first line emphasizes the intensity of his feelings, while the repetition of "blush not so" creates a sense of urgency. The image of Fanny's blush as something that "burns and twitches" is both vivid and sensual, suggesting a physical desire that is difficult to control.

In the second stanza, Keats compares himself to the natural world, contrasting his own aging appearance with Fanny's youthful beauty. The use of the words "chill airs" and "wintry winds" creates a sense of desolation and melancholy, as Keats laments his own fading beauty. The metaphor of the stars "dealing" with Fanny differently than they do with him emphasizes the idea of fate and destiny, suggesting that their love is predetermined by forces beyond their control.

The final stanza of the poem is particularly poignant, as Keats acknowledges the inevitability of his own mortality. The use of the phrase "quietly go to my grave" emphasizes the idea of acceptance and resignation, while the image of his love for Fanny as a "shining light" reinforces the idea of love as a transcendent force that can overcome even death.

Interpretation of the Poem

"To Fanny" is a deeply personal poem that reflects Keats' own experiences of love and loss. Fanny Brawne was a real person who played an important role in Keats' life, and this poem is a testament to their relationship. The use of natural imagery throughout the poem suggests a deep connection between their love and the natural world, emphasizing the idea that love is a force of nature that is both beautiful and powerful.

At the same time, the poem also reflects Keats' own fears and anxieties about his mortality. As a young man, Keats was plagued by ill health and was acutely aware of his own mortality. The final stanza of the poem can be read as a reflection of his own fears about death and his desire to be remembered for his love.

Ultimately, "To Fanny" is a poem that transcends its historical context and speaks to universal themes of love, desire, and mortality. Keats' use of vivid imagery and poignant language creates a sense of emotional intensity that is both moving and profound. As a masterpiece of Romantic poetry, "To Fanny" continues to inspire and captivate readers today, more than two centuries after it was written.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

To Fanny: A Poem of Love and Longing

John Keats, one of the most celebrated poets of the Romantic era, wrote a number of poems that have stood the test of time. Among these is "To Fanny," a poem that captures the essence of love and longing in a way that is both beautiful and poignant. In this article, we will explore the themes, structure, and language of this classic poem, and examine why it continues to resonate with readers today.

The poem is addressed to Fanny Brawne, a young woman whom Keats met in 1818 and fell deeply in love with. Their relationship was intense but short-lived, as Keats died of tuberculosis just a few years later. "To Fanny" was written during the early stages of their courtship, and it reflects the passion and intensity of their feelings for each other.

The poem is structured as a series of four quatrains, or four-line stanzas, with a rhyme scheme of ABAB. Each stanza is composed of two rhyming couplets, which gives the poem a sense of symmetry and balance. The meter is iambic tetrameter, which means that each line contains four iambs, or pairs of syllables with the stress on the second syllable. This creates a rhythmic, musical quality to the poem that is both pleasing to the ear and reflective of the emotions it expresses.

The first stanza sets the tone for the rest of the poem, with Keats declaring his love for Fanny in no uncertain terms. He begins by addressing her directly, saying "O blush not so! O blush not so! / Or I shall think you knowing." This opening line is both playful and flirtatious, as Keats teases Fanny for blushing in his presence. He then goes on to describe the effect that her beauty has on him, saying "And if you smile the blushing while, / Then maidenheads are going." This line is a bit more risqué, as Keats suggests that Fanny's smile has the power to make him lose his virginity. However, it is also a testament to the intensity of his desire for her, and the way that her presence affects him on a physical level.

The second stanza continues in a similar vein, with Keats describing the way that Fanny's beauty has captured his heart. He says "There's a budding morrow in midnight: / There's a triple sight in blindness keen." These lines are somewhat cryptic, but they suggest that Fanny's beauty has the power to transform even the darkest moments into something hopeful and bright. Keats goes on to say that "Such seeing had sight in blindness seen, / As I have in thy face had sight of thee." This is a beautiful and poetic way of saying that Fanny's beauty has opened his eyes to a new way of seeing the world, and that he is grateful for the way that she has changed his life.

The third stanza takes a more melancholy turn, as Keats acknowledges the fleeting nature of their love. He says "When shall we pass a day alone, / White with the others' presence?" This line suggests that Keats longs for a moment of intimacy with Fanny, but that their time together is always overshadowed by the presence of others. He goes on to say "When shall love freely breathe alone, / And unrestricted utter all its essence?" These lines express Keats' desire for a love that is free from the constraints of society and convention, and that can be expressed fully and openly.

The final stanza brings the poem to a close with a sense of resignation and acceptance. Keats says "Some hour or two's supreme delight / May crown a lifetime's sorrow." This line suggests that even a brief moment of happiness with Fanny would be worth a lifetime of pain and sadness. He goes on to say "The heart whose whispers have been slighted / 'Tis vain to teach to sing." This line is a bit more cryptic, but it suggests that Keats has come to accept that his love for Fanny may never be fully reciprocated, and that he must learn to live with the pain of unrequited love.

Overall, "To Fanny" is a beautiful and moving poem that captures the intensity of Keats' love for Fanny. Its structure, language, and imagery all work together to create a sense of longing and desire that is both timeless and universal. Even today, more than two hundred years after it was written, the poem continues to resonate with readers who have experienced the pain and joy of love.

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