I first discovered Keats when I was about 14, some time after I had given my heart to Tennyson and his sweet earnestness thrilled my adolescent heart. This was love as I longed to feel. Encompassing, smouldering, jealous, impassioned. Keats was the first to introduce me to the concept of muse, and as I read through my Emily books and saw her jaw and neck enshrined in Teddy's paintings, I wished that some day some one would feel that way about me.
My first Keats poem was La Belle Dame Sans Merci, and as someone who dreamed of Camelot as revealed to me by Tennyson I adored it.
I met a lady in the meads,
Full beautiful—a faery’s child,
Her hair was long, her foot was light,
And her eyes were wild.
The rhythm was not the steady perfection of Tennyson, it was more emotional. Tennyson paints pictures that I see when I close my eyes, but Keats made me feel. I read his Ode to the Nightingale and I cried. Such beauty in language has the power to do that to me. To take me into some enchanted bubble spun from the web of words where everything is so beautiful it hurts.
This afternoon, feeling unwell and with a somnolent Possum curled up on my chest I watched Bright Star, the Jane Campion movie of Keats' life and it was beautiful. Cinematically sumptuous, as Campion's work is reknowned for being. And I was again reminded of not only Keats' poems, but his letters too. Letters of love and passion for a woman he could not have due to circumstance and society.
This has long been my favourite sentence ever penned, and I think of it often.
"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 could ever contain"