Monday, February 15, 2010
"A thing of beauty is a joy for ever:
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; . . . "
wrote John Keats in "Endymion" at the age of 23. He described both the grandeur of nature and the despondency of gloomy days.
"Beauty is truth, truth beauty, that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know."
Beauty is once again the inspiration for Keats in his "Ode on a Grecian Urn" written in 1819.
"Bright star, would I were steadfast as thou art--
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night
And watching, with eternal lids apart, . . .
The moving waters at their priestlike task
Of pure ablution round earth's human shores, . . . "
Keats wrote "Bright Star" for his young love, Fanny Brawne. This is also the name and subject of the movie directed by Jane Campion. Living and loving life while desperately ill and poverty-stricken probably contributed to the depth of his writing and upheavals in his relationship with Fanny.
The movie bravely follows Keats to Italy and his subsequent death of tuberculosis in 1821. Percy Bysshe Shelley drowned while sailing a year later and is buried near Keats. You can still visit the studio of Keats in Rome at the top of the Spanish Steps.