Letter to John Hamilton Reynolds, September 22, 1818

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Letter to John Hamilton Reynolds
by John Keats

September 22nd, 1818 (?)

My dear Reynolds,

Believe me I have rather rejoiced in your happiness than fretted at your silence. Indeed I am grieved on your account that I am not at the same time happy - But I conjure you to think at present of nothing but pleasure "Gather the rose, &c." - Gorge the honey of life. I pity you as much that it cannot last for ever, as I do myself now drinking bitters. - Give yourself up to it - you cannot help it - and I have a consolation in thinking so. I never was in love - yet the voice and the shape of a Woman has haunted me these two days - at such a time when the relief, the feverous relief of Poetry seems a much less crime - This morning Poetry has conquered - I have relapsed into those abstractions which are my only life - I feel escaped from a new strange and threatening sorrow. - and I am thankful for it. - There is an awful warmth about my heart like a load of Immortality.

Poor Tom that woman - and Poetry were ringing changes in my senses. - Now I am in comparison happy - I am sensible this will distress you - you must forgive me. Had I known you would have set out so soon I could have sent you the 'Pot of Basil' for I had copied it. Here is a free translation of a Sonnet of Ronsard, which I think will please you - I have the loan of his works - they have great Beauties. Nature withheld Cassandra in the skies, For more adornment, a full thousand years; She took their cream of Beauty's fairest dyes, And shap'd and tinted her above all Peers: Meanwhile Love kept her dearly with his wings, And underneath their shadow fill'd her eyes With such a richness that the cloudy Kings Of high Olympus utter'd slavish sighs. When from the Heavens I saw her first descend, My heart took fire, and only burning pains, They were my pleasures - they my Life's sad end; Love pour'd her beauty into my warm veins.

I had not the original by me when I wrote it, and did not recollect the purport of the last lines - I should have seen Rice ere this - but I am confined by Sawrey's mandate in the house now, and have as yet only gone out in fear of the damp night - You know what an undangerous matter it is. I shall soon be quite recovered - Your offer I shall remember as though it had even now taken place in fact - I think it cannot be - Tom is not up yet - I cannot say he is better. I have not heard from George.

Yr affectionate friend

John Keat

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