The last and the first

The last and the first

Hand written cards and letters are part of an ancient but rapidly dying art, hardly helped by the high ratio of people who like or love receiving them to people who find the place, paper, pen and postage to write them.  I mourn this demise while contributing only a...
A long lane

A long lane

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. ...
A thicket of thorns

A thicket of thorns

A moment of despair for Keats, despite his resilient spirit and his desperate attempts to seize life and wring every drop of joy out of it.  He snatched moments, but didn’t survive the tuberculosis which killed his mother and brother. ‘I see nothing but...
A packet of yellow love letters

A packet of yellow love letters

What happened to all those love letter in a private drawer, sent and kept over centuries when this was the main medium for long distance love making? The population is larger than ever, yet the material that will survive the ephemera of digital letters and messages...
Letters unsent

Letters unsent

Earlier posts touched on letters unwritten or unopened. There is also a whole class of correspondence that is written but never sent. I have done this myself a couple of times, finding the writing of the letter to be a cathartic act, without any need to follow through...
Keats on hand-writing

Keats on hand-writing

Keats’ letters are treasures – he is every bit as fine a correspondent as he is a poet.  Here he chides a friend for visually attractive but sprawlingly illegible hand-writing. ‘You must improve in your penmanship; your writing is like the speaking...
The scrutiny that precedes reading

The scrutiny that precedes reading

Yes, there is that small ceremony that precedes the reading of a letter, particularly a hand-written one delivered by post.  You look at the envelope, the stamps, the hand-writing (familiar or new?), the franking date and place.  Then you open it and examine the paper...
A real craving of nature

A real craving of nature

Branwell Bronte, the sister-eclipsed son in a family of six, caused them and his father great heartache through alcoholism and opium addiction, dying young.  However, in a saner moment, he wrote to Wordsworth of another, healthier craving. ‘I read for the same...

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