John Keats to Fanny Brawne


25 College Street

My dearest Girl,

This moment I have set myself to copy some verses out fair.  I cannot proceed
with any degree of content.  I must write you a line or two and see if that
will assist in dismissing you from my Mind for ever so short a time.  Upon my
Soul I can think of nothing else - The time is passed when I had power to
advise and warn you again[s]t the unpromising morning of my Life - My love has
made me selfish.  I cannot exist without you - I am forgetful of every thing
but seeing you again - my Life seems to stop there - I see no further.  You
have absorb'd me. I have a sensation at the present moment as though I was
dissolving - I should be exquisitely miserable without the hope of soon seeing
you.  I should be afraid to separate myself far from you.  My sweet Fanny,
will your heart never change?  My love, will it?  I have no limit now to my
love - You note came in just here - I cannot be happier away from you - 'T is
richer than an Argosy of Pearles.  Do not threat me even in jest. I have been
astonished that Men could die Martyrs for religion - I have shudder'd at it -
I shudder no more - I could be martyr'd for my Religion - Love is my religion -
 I could die for that - I could die for you.  My Creed is Love and you are its
only tenet - You have ravish'd me away by a Power I cannot resist: and yet I
could resist till I saw you; and even since I have seen you I have endeavoured
often "to reason against the reasons of my Love."  I can do that no more - the
pain would be too great - My Love is selfish - I cannot breathe without you.

Yours for ever
John Keats

May (?) 1820
Wednesday Morng.

My dearest Girl,

I have been a walk this morning with a book in my hand, but as usual I have
been occupied with nothing but you: I wish I could say in an agreeable manner.
I am tormented day and night. They talk of my going to
Italy. 'Tis certain I
shall never recover if I am to be so long separate from you: yet with all this
devotion to you I cannot persuade myself into any confidence of you. Past
experience connected with the fact of my long separation from you gives me
agonies which are scarcely to be talked of. When your mother comes I shall be
very sudden and expert in asking her whether you have been to Mrs. Dilke's,
for she might say no to make me easy. I am literally worn to death, which
seems my only recourse. I cannot forget what has pass'd. What? nothing : with
a man of the world, but to me deathful. I will get rid of this as much as
possible. When you were in the habit of flirting with Brown you would have
left off, could your own heart have felt one half of one pang mine did. Brown
is a good sort of Man - he did not know he was doing me to death by inches. I
feel the effect of everyone of those hours in my side now; and for that cause,
though he has done me many services, though I know his love and friendship for
me, though at this moment I should be without pence were it not for his
assistance, I will never see or speak .to him until we are both old men, if we
are to be. I will resent my .heart having been made a football. You will call
this madness. I have heard you say that it was not unpleasant to wait a few
years - you have amusements - your mind is away - you have not brooded over
one idea as I have, and how should you? You are to me an object intensely
desireable - the air I breathe in a room empty of you is unhealthy. I am not
the same to you - no - you can wait - you have a thousand activities - you can
be happy without me. Any party, any thing to fill up the day has been enough.
How have you pass'd this month? Who have you smil'd with? All this may seem
savage in me. You do not feel as I do--you do not know what it is to love -
one day you may - your time is not come. Ask yourself how many unhappy hours
Keats has caused you in Loneliness. For myself I have been a Martyr the whole
time, and for this reason I speak; the confession is forc'd from me by the
torture. I appeal to you by the blood of that Christ you believe in: Do not
write to me if you have done anything this month which it would have pained me
to have seen. You may have altered - if you have not - if you still behave in
dancing rooms and other societies as I have seen you - I do not want to live -
if you have done so I wish this coming night may be my last. I cannot live
without you, and not only you but chaste you; virtuous you. The Sun rises and
sets, the day passes, and you follow the bent of your inclination to a certain
extent - you have no conception of the quantity of miserable feeling that
passes through me in a day. Be serious ! Love is not a plaything - and again
do not write unless you can do it with a crystal conscience.  I would sooner
die for want of you than -

Yours for ever
J. Keats.