Last week I was wondering which poetry book to choose for July but then something happened which helped me decide. I received some lovely mail from one of the sweetest friends on instagram and it included this lovely postcard. It has some lines written by the passionate Keats, with an illustration from Averil Burleigh; she is one of my top favourite illustrators of the Pre-Raphaelites era times along with Edmund Dulac. I love it, thank you. ❤
The lines on this postcard are from the 14 line sonnet called ‘To sleep’ which actually refers to death. Keats, who died at age 25, knew he was terminally ill (TB) and in this sonnet/prayer he was wondering whether God would take his soul whilst writing this or after he receives the priest’s blessings.
“O soft embalmer of the still midnight,
Shutting, with careful fingers and benign,
Our gloom-pleas’d eyes, embower’d from the light,
Enshaded in forgetfulness divine:
O soothest Sleep! if so it please thee, close,
In midst of this thine hymn my willing eyes,
Or wait the “Amen,” ere thy poppy throws,
Around my bed its lulling charities.
Then save me, or the passed day will shine
Upon my pillow, breeding many woes,
Save me from curious Conscience, that still lords
Its strength for darkness, burrowing like a mole;
Turn the key deftly in the oiled wards,
And seal the hushed Casket of my Soul.”
📖 During the last days Keats’s doctor refused to give him opium to ease some of the excruciating pain because he thought Keats wanted to commit suicide so Keats was in constant agony. His nurse, Severn, later wrote that Keats used to wake up crying on finding himself still alive. He wanted a tomb with no name or date, only the words ‘Here lies One whose Name was writ in Water’.
📖 What they actually wrote: “This Grave contains all that was Mortal of a Young English Poet Who on his Death Bed, in the Bitterness of his Heart at the Malicious Power of his Enemies Desired these Words to be engraven on his Tomb Stone: Here lies One Whose Name was writ in Water. 24 February 1821″….
I will write more about him during this month. Wishing you a lovely day 💞