Letter to Jane Reynolds, September 14, 1817

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Letter to Jane Reynolds
by John Keats

Oxford, September 14th, 1817

Oxford Sunday Evening

My dear Jane

You are such a literal translator that I shall some day amuse myself with looking over some foreign sentences and imagining how you would render them into english. This is an age for typical curiosities and I would advise you, as a good speculation, to study Hebrew and astonish the world with a figurative version in our native tongue. 'The Mountains skipping like Rams and the little Hills like Lambs' you will leave as far behind as the Hare did the Tortoise. It must be so or you would never have thought that I really meant you would like to pro and con about those Honeycombs - no, I had no such idea, or if I had 'twould be only to tease you a little for Love. So now let me put down in black and white briefly my sentiment thereon. Imprimis - I sincerely believe that Imogen is the finest Creature; and that I should have been disappointed at hearing you prefer Juliet. Item Yet I feel such a yearning towards Juliet and that I would rather follow her into Pandemonium than Imogen into Paradize - heartily wishing myself a Romeo to be worthy of her and to hear the Devils quote the old Proverb - 'Birds of a feather flock together' - Amen. Now let us turn to the Sea Shore. Believe me, my dear Jane it is a great Happiness to me that you are in this fine part of the year, winning a little enjoyment from the hard World - in truth the great Elements we know of are no mean Comforters - the open Sky sits upon our senses like a Sapphire Crown - the Air is our Robe of State - the Earth is our throne and the Sea a mighty Minstrell playing before it - able like David's Harp to charm the evil Spirit from such Creatures as I am - able like Ariel's to make such a one as you forget almost the tempest-cares of Life. I have found in the Ocean's Musick - varying (though selfsame) more than the passion of Timotheus, an enjoyment not to be put into words and "though inland far I be" I now hear the voice most audibly while pleasing myself in the Idea of your Sensations. Marianne is getting well apace and if you have a few trees and a little Harvesting about you, I'll snap my fingers in Lucifer's eye. I hope you bathe too - if you do not I earnestly recommend it - bathe thrice a Week and let us have no more sitting up next Winter. Which is the best of Shakspeare's Plays? I mean in what mood and with what accompenament do you like Sea best? It is very fine in the morning when the Sun

"opening on Neptune with fair blessed beams Turns into yellow gold his salt Sea Streams"

and superb when

"The sun from meridian height Illumines the depth of the sea, and the fishes beginning to sewat Cry damn it how hot we shall be"

and gorgeous when the fair planet hastens - "to his home within the western foam" but don't you think there is something extremely fine after sunset, when there are a few white Clouds about and a few stars blinking - when the waters are ebbing and the Horison a Mystery? This state of things has been so fulfilling to me that I am anxious to hear whether it is a fevourite with you - so when you and Marriann club your Letter to me put in a word or two about it. I am glad that you will spend a little time with the Dilkes - tell Dilke that it would be perhaps as well if he left a Pheasant or Partidge alive here and there to keep up a supply of Game for next season - tell him to rein in if possible all the Nimrod of his disposition, he being a mighty hunter before the Lord - of the Manor. Tell him to shoot far and not have at the poor devils in a furrow - when they are flying he may fire and nobody will be the wiser. Give my sincerest Respects to Mrs Dilke saying that I have not forgiven myself for not having got her the little Box of Medicine I promised for her after dinner flushings - and that had I remained at Hampstead I would have made precious havoc with her house and furniture - drawn a great harrow over her garden - poisoned Boxer - eaten her Cloathes pegs, - fried her Cabbages fricaceed (how is it spelt?) her radishes - ragouted her Onions - belaboured her beat root - outstripped her Scarlet Runners - parlezvou'd with her french Beans - devoured her Mignon or Mignonette - metamorphosed her Bell handles - splintered her looking glasses - bullock'd at her cups and Saucers - agonized her decanters - put old Philips to pickle in the Brine-tup - disorganized her Piano - dislocated her Candlesticks - emptied her wine bins in a fit of despair - turned out her Maid to Grass and Astonished Brown - whose Letter to her on these events I would rather see than the original copy of the Book of Genesis. Should you see Mr W. D. remember me to him - and to little Robinson Crusoe - and to Mr Snook - [...] My dear Girls, (Remembrances to little Britain) I send you per favor of Endymion the assurance of my esteem to you and my utmost wishes for your Health and Pleasure - being ever -

Your affectionate Brother -

John Keats -

This work published before January 1, 1923 is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.