Friday, November 25, 2011

An Early 19th-Century Pastorale

"Landscape of a Couple Alone at Sunset," (19th cent.) by Cornelis Lieste (1817-61)
Oil on panel, 60 × 79 cm, in the Collectie Rademakers

From Wikimedia Commons

Keats (1795-1821)
English poet.

[Southampton,] Tuesday Morn [April 15, 1817].

My dear Brothers—I am safe at Southampton—after having ridden three stages outside and the rest in for it began to be very cold. I did not know the Names of any of the Towns I passed through—all I can tell you is that sometimes I saw dusty Hedges—sometimes Ponds—then nothing—then a little Wood with trees look you like Launce's Sister* "as white as a Lily and as small as a Wand"—then came houses which died away into a few straggling Barns—then came hedge trees aforesaid again. As the Lamplight crept along the following things were discovered—"long heath broom furze"—Hurdles here and there half a Mile—Park palings when the Windows of a House were always discovered by reflection—One Nymph of Fountain—N.B. Stone—lopped Trees—Cow ruminating—ditto Donkey—Man and Woman going gingerly along—William seeing his Sisters over the Heath—John waiting with a Lanthorn for his Mistress—Barber's Pole—Doctor's Shop—However after having had my fill of these I popped my Head out just as it began to Dawn—N.B. this Tuesday Morn saw the Sun rise—of which I shall say nothing at present.

[. . .] By the by talking of Titmouse Remember me particularly to all my Friends—give my Love to the Miss Reynoldses and to Fanny who I hope you will soon see. [. . .]

Your most affectionate Brother
John Keats.

Reynolds shall hear from me soon.

* Quotation from Shakespeare's Two Gentlemen of Verona (Act II, Sc. iii.).

From: Letters of John Keats to His Family and Friends, Sidney Colvin, Ed. (London: MacMillan and Co., 1925) at

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