Poetry Corner

Endurance


John Keats by Joseph Severn © National Portrait Gallery, London
 
 Two hundred years ago
 this February in Rome
 Keats died.
 Aged 25.
 Tuberculosis.
 Coughed his lungs out
 haemorrhaging blood.
 Slowly suffocating
 until he breathed his last.
  
 He saw it coming
 doctor, poet … betrothed.
 Melancholy’s friend.
 He knew it,
 almost before he left,
 parting from Miss Brawne.
 The climate did not cure him.
  
 He could not write,
 could not endure the separation.
 There would be no 
 consummation of their love.
 He knew it,
 cluthching the Cornelian stone
 she gave him 
 as a parting gift.
 Not blood orange
 Rarer, oval-white …
 Stone of protection -
 coolant for the feverish body
 … and the mind
  
 It did not keep you, 
 sweet nightingale,
 safe from harm,
 strong in health and body.
 Maybe, at the last,
 it helped remove the fear of death;
 protected you on 
 your journey in the afterlife.
  
 All I know is this:
 though your name 
 was ‘writ on water’,
 you have endured.
 Your poems, 
 and your love, 
 immortalised. 

Nicola Tipton

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