Friday, September 18, 2009

Poetry Friday: This fall, it's all about Keats


Jane Campion's Bright Star releases today. It tells the fevered love story of Fanny Brawne and (doomed) Johnny Keats. I was as in love with Keats -- or possibly more -- than Fanny Brawne could ever have been, or at least that's what I believed when I was about thirteen. At one time I had almost all his sonnets by heart, including the one that lends its name to Campion's film. My sister and I used to recite together "When I Have Fears," and I spent many a biology class writing out "Ode to a Nightingale" so I would be able to memorize it. (Now I turn it over in my head when I'm in the dentist's chair. Very calming.)

I thought about posting "Bright Star" here today, but I have to say it was never one of my favorites. So here's a little ditty that I have long loved, and that I'm even now working with a most-admired artist to turn into a picture book. It was written with a different kind of love by Keats for another Fanny, his younger sister, Fanny Keats. Now, in my dotage, this might be my most beloved Keats poem of all.

1

There was a naughty Boy,
A naughty boy was he,
He would not stop at home,
He could not quiet be --
He took
In his Knapsack
A Book
Full of vowels
And a shirt
With some towels --
A slight cap
For night cap --
A hair brush,
Comb ditto,
New Stockings
For old ones
Would split O!
This Knapsack
Tight at's back
He rivetted close
And followed his Nose
To the North,
To the North,
And follow'd his nose
To the North.

2

There was a naughty boy
And a naughty boy was he,
For nothing would he do
But scribble poetry --
He took
An ink stand
In his hand
And a pen
Big as ten
In the other,
And away
In a Pother
He ran
To the mountains
And fountains
And ghostes
And Postes
And witches
And ditches
And wrote
In his coat
When the weather
Was cool,
Fear of gout,
And without
When the weather
Was warm --
Och the charm
When we choose
To follow one's nose
To the north,
To the north,
To follow one's nose
To the north!

3

There was a naughty boy
And a naughty boy was he,
He kept little fishes
In washing tubs three
In spite
Of the might
Of the maid
Nor afraid
Of his Granny-good-
He often would
Hurly burly
Get up early
And go
By hook or crook
To the brook
And bring home
Miller's thumb,
Tittlebat
Not over fat,
Minnows small
As the stall
Of a glove,
Not above
The size
Of a nice
Little Baby's
Little fingers --
O he made
'Twas his trade
Of Fish a pretty Kettle
A Kettle --
A Kettle
Of Fish a pretty Kettle
A Kettle!

4

There was a naughty Boy,
And a naughty Boy was he,
He ran away to Scotland
The people for to see -
There he found
That the ground
Was as hard,
That a yard
Was as long,
That a song
Was as merry,
That a cherry
Was as red --
That lead
Was as weighty,
That fourscore
Was as eighty,
That a door
Was as wooden
As in England --
So he stood in his shoes
And he wonder'd,
He wonder'd,
He stood in his shoes
And he wonder'd.


-- John Keats, 1816

7 comments:

Rick Daley said...

5
There was a naughty Boy,
And a naughty Boy was he,
He stood upon those Highlands
His mind was in a daze
And looked forever backward
For hindsight held his gaze
The grass
Its shade
Of green
He knew
From the yard
Back at his home
And now
That same
Shade stared at him
Upon this rocky dome.
His lesson learned?
Perhaps, he thought,
It was wrong of me to flee
And his hindsight turned
Thus forward
As for the future
We will see...
--Rick Daley, 2009

Anna said...

lovely poem!

susiej said...

Thanks for posting about this! With 2 young kids I don't get to the movies as often as I used to, but this I WILL make time for.

Richard Jesse Watson said...

Thanks, Brenda, for sharing this poem. I love the way it tumbles out of itself. And to discover ,"That a door was as wooden as in England..." is a profound "heads up!" to the hero on any journey.

Corey Whaley said...

Wow. This is a great poem. Thanks for sharing.

J.Tuttle said...

Oh, I really like that. Thanks for posting it!

Vivi said...

I can't believe I still haven't seen this movie - I love Keats so.