Keats had a humbling capacity to squeeze out moments of joy even while grappling with the illness which would kill him and which had already killed his mother and brother.

But he also gave expression to the toll it took on his spirit, here likening it to a long lane.  He tries to focus on seeing – and reaching – Fanny Brawne at the end of it, only there was no end to the illness, only to life and when that came he was far from Fanny.

‘Illness is a long lane, but I see you at the end of it, and shall mend my pace as well as possible.’


Source: John Keats, So Bright and Delicate: Love Letters and Poems of John Keats to Fanny Brawne (London: Penguin Classics, 2009), p. 52

Photo credit: shrutikhanna at


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