Today we’re going to meet another great writer belonging to the second generation of Romantic poets (he died at 26). When he was young he wanted to become a doctor but at 21 he abandoned medicine for poetry; thanks to that choice we can now enjoy his fantastic poems. All his life was characterized by his enduring and reciprocated love for Fanny Brawne.
Here’s the beautiful love poem BRIGHT STAR you can also read in your textbook. The first video is the last scene of the movie when Fanny Browne recites the poem Keats had written for her. She had just been given the news of his death in Rome.
Let’s watch the trailer of the movie about Keats and Fanny Brawne’s romance: Bright Star (2009) Director: Jane Campion Cast: Ben Whishaw (Keats), Abbie Cornish (Fanny Brawne), Kerry Fox (Mrs Brawne), Paul Schneider (Charles Armitage Brown).
AT HOME: Task 1) Read A SHORT ACCOUNT of their thwarted love story.
As you know Keats moved to Rome hoping that the warmer climate would be beneficial to his illness, tuberculosis. The Keats-Shelley House curator takes a walk through some of the rooms of the museum and explains why this place is so important. I went to visit it last February. One day, when in Rome you might decide to go there and visit it 🙂
Another poem worth reading is the Ode to a Nightingale read by the actor of the movie Ben Whishaw. Here’s the poem in English & Italian
I cannot help adding the reading by the actor Benedict Cumberbatch, whose voice is just stunning!
As you can read in your textbook Keats believed in Beauty & the immortality of Art. His poetry claimed no moral or political purpose, thus anticipating the 19th century trend of ART FOR ART’S SAKE you have found in D’Annunzio & we’ll find in Oscar Wilde.
I end this post quoting the poet whose book of poems was found in Shelley’s pocket when he shipwrecked & died in the Gulf of Lerici.
“Beauty is truth, truth beauty’, – that is all
We know on earth , and all we need to know.”
To clarify what we said in class here’s a good explanation of NEGATIVE CAPABILITY. As Keats himself stated “Several things dovetailed in my mind, & at once it struck me, what quality went to form a Man of Achievement especially in Literature & which Shakespeare possessed so enormously — I mean Negative Capability, that is when man is capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact & reason“. “A poem needs understanding through the senses. The point of diving in a lake is not immediately to swim to the shore; it’s to be in the lake, to luxuriate in the sensation of water. You do not work the lake out. It is an experience beyond thought. Poetry soothes and emboldens the soul to accept mystery.”
ASSIGNMENT: either as a comment in Blog or oral in class: CHOOSE one
a) How much importance do people attach to beauty nowadays? What role does art play in your life?
b) How do you relate to the concept of Negative Capability, this idea of being RECEPTIVE, not seeking absolute knowledge, a kind of flexibility and openness to the world also regarded as a rejection of the tendency to rationalise?