My dearest Girl,
I wrote a Letter for you yesterday expecting to have seen your mother. I shall be selfish enough to send it though I know it may give you a little pain, because I wish you to see how unhappy I am for love of you, and endeavour as much as I can to entice you to give up your whole heart to me whose whole existence hangs upon you. You could not step or move an eyelid but it would shoot to my heart–I am greedy of you–Do not think of any thing but me. Do not live as if I was not existing–Do not forget me–But have I any right to say you forget me? Perhaps you think of me all day. Have I any right to wish you to be unhappy for me? You would forgive me for wishing it, if you knew the extreme passion I have that you should love me–and for you to love me as I do you, you must think of no one but me, much less write that sentence. Yesterday and this morning I have been haunted with a sweet vision–I have seen you the whole time in your shepherdess dress. How my senses have ached at it! How my heart has been devoted to it! How my eyes have been full of Tears at it! Indeed I think a real Love is enough to occupy the wildest heart–Your going to town alone, when I heard of it was a shock to me–yet I expected it–promise me you will not for some time, till I get better. Promise me this and fill the paper full of the most endearing names. If you cannot do so with good will, do my Love tell me–say what you think–confess if your heart is too much fasten’d on the world. Perhaps then I may see you at a greater distance, I may not be able to appropriate you so closely to myself. Were you to loose a favorite bird from the cage, how would your eyes ache after it as long as it was in sight; when out of sight you would recover a little. Perhaps if you would, if it is so, confess to me how many things are necessary to you besides me, I might be happier, by being less tantaliz’d. Well may you exclaim, how selfish, how cruel, not to let me enjoy my youth! to wish me to be unhappy! You must be so if you love me–upon my Soul I can be contented with nothing else. If you could really what is call’d enjoy yourself at a Party–if you can smile in peoples faces, and wish them to admire you now, you never have nor ever will love me–I see life in nothing but the certainty of your Love–convince me of it my sweetest. If I am not somehow convinc’d I shall die of agony. If we love we must not live as other men and women do–I cannot brook the wolfsbane of fashion and foppery and tattle. You must be mine to die upon the rack if I want you. I do not pretend to say I have more feeling than my fellows–but I wish you seriously to look over my letters kind and unkind and consider whether the Person who wrote them can be able to endure much longer the agonies and uncertainties which you are so peculiarly made to create–My recovery of bodily health will be of no benefit to me if you are not all mine when I am well. For god’s sake save me–or tell me my passion is of too awful a nature for you. Again God bless you.
No–my sweet Fanny–I am wrong. I do not want you to be unhappy–and yet I do, I must while there is so sweet a Beauty–my loveliest my darling! Good bye! I kiss you–O the torments!
John Keats, letter to Fanny Brawne, May 1820