preview

Keats’ Love for Fanny Brawne in The Eve of St. Agnes

Better Essays
Keats’ Love for Fanny Brawne in The Eve of St. Agnes

“For myself I know not how to express my devotion to so fair a form: I want a brighter word than bright, a fairer word than fair. I almost wish we were butterflies and liv’d but three summer days—three such days with you I could fill with more delight than fifty common years could ever contain” –John Keats to Fanny Brawne (Bate 538).

As the colloquial phrase goes…behind every great man, lies a great woman, but in John Keats’ case, the woman is neither great nor his superior but inspires greatness in the Romantic poet. This woman calls herself Fanny Brawne. She was intellectually inferior to Keats, but her sprightly character added rich, sensuosity to his writing. John Keats always had a fondness for folklore and medieval tales. He dreamt of being a chivalric knight, riding on a white steed to rescue his damsel. In early childhood Keats would go to a rustic arbor, find his niche, and read Edmund Spenser’s “Faery Queen”: it “awakened his genius,” and “he was enchanted, breathed in a new world, and became another being” (Bate 75). Fanny Brawne is Keats’ “Faery Queen,” and her spirit inspires the sensuous, rife, and feminine qualities of “The Eve of St. Agnes.”

Fanny Brawne and John Keats first interacted in November 1818 at Wentworth Place. He first became infatuated and entranced in her differences from himself. While distinguishing her uniqueness, John says she “liked me for my own sake and for nothing else—I have met with women whom I really think would like to be married to a Poem (Bate 428). She enjoyed literature, art, and music, but her special interest was fashion—all the sumptuous textures, colors, and styles. Joanna Richardson describes Fan...

... middle of paper ...

.... He has wooed with tender, sweet kisses of poetry. Keats does likewise. Since he cannot physically show Fanny her value, he arouses her with images of “lavendered” linens, “candied” confections, and “cinnamon” succulence. The verdant, active language Keats utilizes in “The Eve of St. Agnes” adumbrates his ardent love for Fanny Brawne and proves the power of poetry.

Works Cited

- Bate, Walter Jackson. John Keats. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1963.

- Keats, John. “The Eve of St. Agnes.” The Oxford Anthology of English Literature,

Romantic Poetry and Prose. New York: Oxford UP, 1973. 524-35.

- Richardson, Joanna. Fanny Brawne, A Biography. Great Britain: Vanguard Press, 1952.

- Wordsworth, William. “The Tables Turned.” The Oxford Anthology of English

Literature, Romantic Poetry and Prose. New York: Oxford UP, 1973. 128-29.
Get Access