John Keats, Traveling to Italy

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BobBradshaw
Posts: 2041
Joined: 03 Jun 2016, 21:03

John Keats, Traveling to Italy

#1 Post by BobBradshaw » 07 Jan 2022, 22:30

V2:
John Keats, Traveling to Italy

The moment John coughed up
a ragged star of blood,
he knew he was staring
at his death warrant.

How could he let Fanny,
whom he loved as much as poetry,
travel with him, to nurse him
through horrid nights?

A painter and a recent friend,
I volunteered to go with John.
Before I could see a Raphael
face to face or a Botticelli

there was the matter
of the Maria Crowther tossing
about in the waves like a paper boat
sailing into a waterfall.

A Miss Cotterell, another consumptive,
lay in her bunk, feverous,
too exhausted to move.
John said his chest felt as if
it lay under a rock pile.

When the seas turned glassy,
they took to the deck
to dream of Italy’s warmth
together, like sailors
scanning the waves, their hopes birds
flying above the Bay of Naples.

Miss Cotterell’s lively talk
reminded John of Fanny.
He missed her now “more
than England
”.

In Rome he refused to read her letters.
Her handwriting heartbreaking.

As John fumbled through his trunk
Fanny had helped pack,
he found a strand of her hair
and began flinging his clothes
into the air--enveloped
by her scent.

John sighed. What could he do?
He knew his lungs,
twin assassins, were conspiring
to kill him.

Still, for a moment, Fanny
had leaned against him,
their hands like their futures
braided together.




V1:

John Keats, Traveling to Italy

The moment John coughed up
a ragged star of blood,
he knew he was staring
at his death warrant.

How could he let Fanny,
whom he loved as much as poetry,
travel with him, to nurse him
through horrid nights?

So here we were together,
the Maria Crowther tossing
in the waves like a paper boat
sailing into a waterfall.

A Miss Cotterell, another consumptive,
lay in her bunk, feverous,
too exhausted to move.
John said his chest felt as if
it lay under a rock pile.

When the seas turned glassy,
they took to the deck
to dream of Italy’s warmth
together, like sailors
scanning the waves, their hopes birds
flying above the Bay of Naples.

Miss Cotterell’s lively talk
reminded John of Fanny.
He missed her now “more
than England
”.

In Rome he refused to read her letters.
Her handwriting heartbreaking.

As John fumbled through his trunk
Fanny had helped pack,
he found a strand of her hair
and began flinging his clothes
into the air--enveloped
by her scent.

John sighed. What could he do?
He knew his lungs,
twin assassins, were conspiring
to kill him.

Still, for a moment, Fanny
had leaned against him,
their hands like their futures
braided together.



note: an old poem that I've greatly expanded

User avatar
Billy
Posts: 1159
Joined: 22 Jun 2006, 10:56

Re: John Keats, Traveling to Italy

#2 Post by Billy » 13 Jan 2022, 23:37

I could be wrong but it confuses me that Fanny went with anyway.
Maybe bur I'm probably wrong, take or leave, others may say it's fine, otherwise, terrific poem for me:

How could he let Fanny,
whom he loved as much as poetry,
travel with him, to nurse him
through horrid nights?

The Maria Crowther tosses
in the waves like a paper boat
sailing into a waterfall.
A Miss Cotterell, another consumptive—

John and she cabin mates—
lay in her bunk, feverous,
too exhausted to move.
John said his chest felt as if
it lay under a rock pile.

BobBradshaw
Posts: 2041
Joined: 03 Jun 2016, 21:03

Re: John Keats, Traveling to Italy

#3 Post by BobBradshaw » 14 Jan 2022, 22:30

Thanks, Billy. Fanny did not go with him. Joseph Severn, the painter, accompanied him and nursed him in Rome.

BobBradshaw
Posts: 2041
Joined: 03 Jun 2016, 21:03

Re: John Keats, Traveling to Italy

#4 Post by BobBradshaw » 15 Jan 2022, 03:30

Let me know, Billy, if V2 works better for you. Bob

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