The last manifestation of Keats’s creativity in the field of love poetry is to be found in the six poems which have often been associated with Fanny Brawne: the sonnets ‘The day is gone, and all its sweets are gone!’, ‘I cry your mercy, pity, love — ay, love!’, and ‘Bright star! Would I were as steadfast as thou art’; ‘To Fanny’ and the ‘Ode to Fanny’; and the enigmatic fragment ‘This living hand, now warm and capable’.1 It seems appropriate to end this book with a consideration of this cluster of short love poems because, for a variety of reasons, they have provided Keats’s readers with a difficult challenge. In these poems, Keats certainly writes out of a particularly anguished personal situation which has made for painful reading. The distressing circumstances of his illness and the precarious nature of his betrothal to Fanny Brawne can make the poems seem irredeemably attached to the private anguish of this very moving period of his life. The pressure to read biographically is greater than ever. And the fact that the poems articulate the sometimes aggressive and ungenerous frustrations of a young man in tragic circumstances has, understandably, only added to the sense of critical unease.2 Here Keats’s acute sense of bodily presence finds itself combined with physical incapacity and sexual jealousy.
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