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.”

On Writing…

Once upon a time, Novroz recommended me a book when she knew that I wanted to be a writer. It was On Writing by Stephen King. I wasn’t sold at first, mainly because horror has never been my thing and King is, like, the master of that genre. But she finally managed to convince me when she said that the book was actually about his advice and insights on writing. So asked her to lend me.

And boy, did I regret it like hell!

Why? Because the book is so damn great, I don’t think I’d ever want to part with it !!!! And this is coming from a non Stephen King fan, mind you! This book is A TREASURE for all aspiring writers out there, regardless of your writing’s genres. I had to contain myself from sticking post-it on every little memorable phrases or pharagraphs I could find – and believe me, there were PLENTY! – because the book is not mine.

So I’d like to thank you, Novroz, for giving me the opportunity of discovering this amazing piece of work, and sorry, for planning on not returning it 🙂

Here are some of the memorable quotes from the book. There are more, trust me. You just gotta read it for yourself.

“When you write a story, you’re telling yourself the story. When you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that are not the story.”

“Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open. Your stuffs starts out being just for you but then it goes out. Once you know what the story is and get it right –as right as you can, anyway – it belongs to anyone who wants to read it. Or criticize it. If you’re very lucky, more will want to do the former than the latter.”

“There were times – especially in summer, while swallowing my afternoon salt-pill – when it occured to me that I was simply repeating my mother’s life. Usually this thought struck me as funny. But if I happened to be tired, or if there were extra bills to pay and no money to pay them with, it seemed awful. I’d think This isn’t the way our lives are supposed to be going. Then I’d think Half the world has the same idea.”

“Writing is a lonely job, Having someone who believes in you makes a lot of difference. They don’t have to make speeches. Just believing it usually enough.”

“American grammar doesn’t have the sturdiness of British grammar (a British advertising man with a proper education can make magazine copy for ribbed condoms sound like the Magna goddamn Carta), but it has its own scruffy charm.”

“Two pages of the passive voice – just about any business document ever written, in other words, not to mention reams of bad fiction – make me want scream. It’s weak, it’s circuitous, and it’s frequently tortuous, as well. How about this: My first kiss will always be recalled by me as how my romance with Shayna was begun. Oh man – who farted, right?”

“Good writing is often about letting go of fear and affectation. Affectation itself, beginning with the need to define some sorts of writing as ‘good’ and other sorts as ‘bad’, is fearful behavior.”

“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”

“Talent renders the whole idea of rehearsal meaningless; when you find something at which you are talented, you do it (whatever it is) until your fingers bleed or your eyes are ready to fall out of your head. Even when no one is listening (or reading, or watching), every outing is a bravura performance, because you as the creator are happy. Perhaps even ecstatic.”

“If God gives you something you can do, why in God’s name wouldn’t you do it?”

“My mother, God rest her, didn’t approve of profanity or any such talk; she called it ‘the language of the ignorant’. This did not, however, keep her from yelling ‘Oh shit!’ if she burned the roast or nailed her thumb a good one while hammering a picture-hook in the wall.”

“It’s also important to remember that no one is ‘the bad guy’ or ‘the best friend’ or ‘the whore with a heart of gold’ in real life; in real life we each of us regard ourselves as the main character, the protagonist, the big cheese; the camera is on us, baby. If you can bring this attitude into your fiction, you may not find it easier to create brilliant characters, but it will be harder for you to create the sort of one-dimensional dopes that populate so much pop fiction.”

“Someone  – I can’t remember who, for the life of me – once wrote that all novels are really letters aimed at one person. As it happens, I believe this. I think that every novelist has a single ideal reader; that a various points during the composition of a story, the writer is thinking, ‘I wonder what he/she will think when he/she reads this part?’.”

“You need to revise for length. Formula: 2nd Draft = 1st Draft – 10%. Good luck.”

“When a novelist is challenged on something he likes – one of his darlings – the first two words out of his mouth are almost always Yeah but.”

“Do you need someone to make you a paper badge with the word WRITER on it before you can believe you are one? God, I hope not.”

“Writing is not life, but I think that sometimes it can be a way back to life.”

“The scariest moment is always just before you start. After that, things can only get better.”

Seriously guys, READ THIS BOOK!!!! You won’t regret it!