John Keats’ Bright Star

About a year ago, I was browsing through youtube out of boredom when I stumbled upon a beautiful movie trailer. The movie’s titled “Bright Star”, starring Abbie Cornish and Ben Whishaw. It’s a period movie based on a true story of a famous poet and writer, John Keats. It wasn’t hard for me to fall in love with the 2-minute-and-25-second trailer. It reminded me so much of Becoming Jane: the hero/heroine being struggling writers, the beautiful settings, the heart-wrenching romance, and –of course –the amazing casts. After seeing the trailer only once, I immediately added Bright Star in my must-see movies.

However, I am not here to talk about the movie. Well, at least not just yet. Sure, I was so excited to see Bright Star, but I knew it would be a while for me to get my hands on that movie, considering I was overseas at the time and couldn’t download or buy the dvd any time soon. So instead, I Googled John Keats. And what I found blew my mind.

The movie, Bright Star, was actually inspired by the love letters and poems John Keats had written for his one true love, Fanny Brawne. Being a hopeless romantic that I am, I searched via Goodreads(dot)com to find out more. Turns out, there are thirty seven surviving love letters, notes, and poems Keats wrote to his one true love, and they are all collected and compiled in a Penguin Classics book titled: “So Bright and Delicate. Love Letters and Poems of John Keats to Fanny Brawne”.


This, ladies and gentlemen, is what I want to talk about.

Imagine opening the book for the first time, going through the introduction, then, on the very first page, you are greeted with a single line of three simple words:

My dearest Fanny.

It was a copy of Keats handwriting.

From that very page, even before I flipped to the other page to read the first letter of many, I knew that reading this book would be an experience I’d never forget.

I. Was. Right.

Every single letter Keats had written to Fanny brought tears to my eyes. It was as if I became a witness of a beautiful, tragic, and intimate love story. Some letters are sweet and tender, while some others are unbearable to go through because they were just so…intense, mild, and –most of all –real. And this is the reason why I’m writing this post. Because I want to share some of them with you, whoever you are. So wear your heart on your sleeves and scroll down the page. Take a peek into one of the most beautiful love stories in the world.


“I am now at a very pleasant Cottage window, looking onto a beautiful hilly country, with a glimpse of the sea; the morning is very fine. I do not know how elastic my spirit might be, what pleasure I might have in living here and breathing and wandering as free as a stag about this beautiful Coast if the remembrance of you did not weigh so upon me.”

“Ask yourself my love whether you are not very cruel to have so entrammelled me, so destroyed my freedom. Will you confess this in the Letter you must write immediately and do all you can to console me in it –make it rich as a draught of poppies to intoxicate me – write the softest words and kiss them that I may at least touch my lips where yours have been. For myself I know not how to express my devotion to so fair a form: I want a brighter word than bright, a fairer word that fair. I almost wish we were butterflies and liv’d but three summer days – three such days with you I could fill with more delight than fifty common years coul ever contain.”

“You say you are afraid I shall think you do not love me – in saying this you make me ache the more to be near you.”

“You cannot conceive how I ache to be with you: how I would die for one hour – for what is it in the world? I say you cannot conceive; it is impossible you should look with such eyes upon me as I have upon you: it cannot be.”

“My dear love, I cannot believe there ever was or ever could be any thing to admire in me especially as far as sight goes – I cannot be admired, I am not a thing to be admired. You are, I love you; all I can bring you is a swooning admiration of your beauty.”

“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 the hope of soon seeing 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.”

“My love is selfish. I cannot breathe without you.”

“I read your note in bed last night, and that might be the reason of my sleeping so much better.”

“Sweetest Fanny,

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 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.”

“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.”

“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.”

“I long to believe in immortality. I shall never be able to bid you an entire farewell. If I am destined to be happy with you here – how short is the longest Life.”

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. danniehill
    Oct 15, 2011 @ 09:36:10

    Beautiful post! True love can and will endure the ages. Words are but words until they fly from the heart. There are still romantics living today but their words are often trampled and labled so that many will never read.

    John Keats was a man who lived in the right age.


    • si_ulil
      Oct 17, 2011 @ 07:04:48

      Couldn’t agree more with you! Every page in this book is so touching and romantic, I couldn’t put it down even for a second. And have you seen the movie? Ben Whishaw did a marvelous job portraying Keats.

      Overall, both the book and the movie are unforgettable experiences.


  2. rtm
    Oct 17, 2011 @ 16:38:58

    Hey Wulan, those letters are indeed beautiful and romantic. Man, I think the art of letter writing is lost with each passing day… it’s really too bad.

    Funny that you mentioned ‘Becoming Jane’ as I don’t love that one despite James McAvoy’s casting. I think the issue I had is with Anne Hathaway’s portrayal of Jane, I just don’t think she’s right for the role to begin with. I need to give Bright Star a rewatch as I didn’t love it the first time around. I sent you the link on the comment section of today’s post on FC.


    • si_ulil
      Oct 18, 2011 @ 14:37:51

      Hey, Ruth. Thank you for taking your time to read this post. And yes, you are absolutely right. The future of letter writing art looks bleak. It’s just sad, really.

      As for your comment about Becoming Jane, I totally agree with you about Anne Hathaway’s portrayal. I love her, don’t get me wrong. I’m one of her biggest fans in the world. But that accent, oh my God! It sounded so weird and awkward that it made me cringed! And to my surprise, she’s going to play another British girl in One Day, with that handsome Jim Sturgess! Boy, I’m really hoping she’ll make a home run this time. But, judging from the trailer, I can’t say I’m expecting much.

      Anyway, thank you for giving me the link. I’ve checked it out and commented 🙂


      • rtm
        Oct 19, 2011 @ 17:44:39

        I think Anne was being criticized for her accent in One Day, too. I like Jim Sturgess and the premise seems lovely, but with her in the lead, I’m not sure I want to see it. I’d definitely see it if Emily Blunt or Carey Mulligan had been cast instead.

      • si_ulil
        Oct 20, 2011 @ 02:30:09

        Yes, you are absolutely right! Though I’ve never read the book, I think Carey would’ve been a great cast!

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