BETTER TO BURN OUT THAN FADE AWAY

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To Fanny

by John Keats

I cry your mercy–pity–love!–aye, love!

Merciful love that tantalizes not,

One-thoughted, never wandering, guileless love.

Unmasked, and being seen–without a blot!

O! let me have thee whole,–all–all–be mine!

That shape, that fairness, that sweet minor zest

Of love, your kiss,–those hands, those eyes divine,

That warm, white, lucent, million-pleasured breast,–

Yourself–your soul–in pity give me all,

Withhold no atom`s atom or I die,

Or living on, perhaps, your wretched thrall,

Forget in the mist of idle misery,

Life`s purposes,–the palate of my mind

Losing it`s gust, and my ambition blind!

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The Romantic poets may seem a little elaborate and gushing to some modern ears, but John Keats is a fine example of all the innate civilised, eloquence, elegance and beauty the English language is more than capable of. Within the space of 14 lines, we are given the agony and ecstasy of hyper-passionate love; the need to possess the love, spirit and body of another, in an embrace, a kiss, the act of love itself. The agony of being apart from the beloved, and the exaltation of the soul at being together is shown within these lines. They are the words of the deepest heartfelt romance, from a man who, like all great poets of the soul should, burn out like a blazing comet from an incurable disease, in the great Earth Mother of all cities–Rome, on a truckle-bed, in a small room overlooking the Spanish Steps. Memento Mori.
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