LMH Pause for Thought Words and Music for week 5

Today is the bicentenary of the death of the poet John Keats.

Born in a pub, trained as a surgeon, he died in Rome, in rooms overlooking the Spanish Steps, where he had gone to recover from tuberculosis and his passionate love for Fanny Brawne. His condition deteriorated, caused partly by his treatment, which involved bleeding, a diet of one anchovy per day, and the confiscation of his laudanum, which resulted in him enduring agonies. His friend Joseph Severn, who was taking care of him, wrote, “Keats raves till I am in a complete tremble for him... " He was buried in Rome’s Protestant Cemetery with a headstone bearing the inscription ‘Here lies One Whose Name was writ in Water’.

He met Fanny in London in 1818 and fell deeply in love, though because of his poverty he knew he could never marry her. He wrote to her '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."

In 1820 he was advised to move to a warmer climate because of his tuberculosis, and he left England knowing he would never see her again.

He died aged twenty-five having sold about two hundred copies of his three books of poems. “I have left no immortal work behind me – nothing to make my friends proud of my memory” he wrote to her.

There are so may beautiful poems to choose from in his canon of work. But today I thought we might start, on this early spring day, with the message of the thrush.

Keats' speaks of the hard struggle of the thrush, whose face 'hath felt the Winter’s wind' and known the 'supreme darkness' of a harsh season. Now standing at the start of Spring the fragile survivor of hard times knows the joy as of 'a triple morn'.

The message of endurance and the promise of the warmth of spring is certainly something to resonate with us as we come through this winter, and move into the promise of spring and a freer summer.

We are told not to 'fret after knowledge' - dangerous counsel at Oxford !

But there is wisdom in the suggestion of simply hearing the song of the thrush in the growing warmth. There has to be time for rest and refreshment and they are as vital as study and striving.

So today, take a pause from the striving and rest a while in the moment and enjoy the moment for itself.

Remember Keats and his love for Fanny Brawne, for whom he wished :

'Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath, And so live ever—or else swoon to death.'

Blessings and peace for the week ahead.


Created with images by TheOtherKev - "mistle thrush thrush songbird" • apnear40 - "thrush thrush musician nature"