Week of February 11, 2019
I’m sure the picture I saw doesn’t do her just justice –she was a beautiful young woman. So beautiful that she inspired one of the world’s greatest writers of honey dripping hunk of burning love poems to do his thing (write poetry).
It took seven years after she died for folks to figure out that she was the one he was writing about… That is pretty Romeo and Juliettish if you ask me.
In December of 1865 Frances Lindon, age 65 passed away leaving three children (ages 21, 27 and 31) and a husband who loved her.
That would make it around 1872 when one of Frances’ children figured out that she was the recipient of some of the hottest love letters ever to be written. I’m not talking dirty here, just talking sweet pining after love letters. And the letters weren’t from their daddy.
Imagine how her children felt. Going through all her things many years later and coming across all of these letters to their mother. Not just correspondence, but letters that would make her grown children blush and probably say ooh and ahh a lot. This romance was bigger than Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe, Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood, Elvis and Priscilla, Johnny and June and all those Royal couples put together.
They probably thought their mama was boring.
What Frances’ children figured out was that they had hit the gold mine of love letters; letters written to their mother by John Keats. John Keats was a poet who could write a couple of lines that would send a whole Hallmark store full of Valentine’s Day cards home crying to their mama’s that they "would never be good enough." And they would be correct.
Keats poetry, particularly from 1819 was considered brilliant and included classics like "Ode on a Grecian Urn," "Ode to a Nightingale," and "La Belle Dame Sans Merci." They say his productivity and talent were just incredible considering he came from the wrong side of town, lacked education and was very poor. Also, he didn’t even pick up his poetry pencil until he turned 18.
I say it was the woman. The right woman makes a poet out of any man.
Keats died at age 25 in 1821. More than 50 years after he died, his love letters to Frances, or "Fanny" as she was affectionately known were unleashed on the world. As you would think, Fanny’s children made a killing off of the sale of Keats’ letters to their mother, because Keats poems were a hot item.
Folks wanted to read these private letters from a fellow who knew how to write hot stuff… they wanted to know more about the lady who cranked his tractor – Fanny Brawne.
Keats died of tuberculosis in Italy, having left his beloved Fanny for a climate that he thought might prolong his life. He continued to correspond with her as long as he could, then her mother. I guess in addition to tuberculosis, he had to have had a huge crack in his heart.
So it’s Valentine’s Day and you want to tell the woman of your dreams that she is the woman of your dreams. And you want to do it in a way that will cause her children to read what you said to her 50 years later and start to sweat and pass out because of the things you said to their mama.
What do you say?
I will give you just a few of these "one-liners" by John Keats to his sweet Fanny. I suppose that they have been used many times.
"My love is selfish. I cannot breathe without you."
"I wish I was either in your arms full of faith, or that a Thunder bolt would strike me."
"You cannot conceive how I ache to be with you: how I would die for one hour..."
"The last of your kisses was ever the sweetest; the last smile the brightest; the last movement the gracefullest." Yes he said, "gracefullest" – it’s a fine word.
"When shall we pass a day alone? I have had a thousand kisses, for which with my whole soul I thank love - but if you should deny me the thousand and first - 'twould put me to the proof how great a misery I could live through."
Lord have mercy… Thinking of Fanny holding out or holding on to that one thousand and first kiss. You want to tell her, "Please kiss him, kiss him on the mouth, kiss him before he dies…"
Here’s hoping you have a hidden stash of love letters for your children to read years after you die. They might be worth something. One, just one of John’s letters to Fanny sold for around $150,000 a few years back.
Happy Valentine’s Day.
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