Love and sorrow often go hand in hand, and many of the great artists make no exception.
The biographical movie Bright star presents the love story of John Keats and its influence on his creative process. Keats is depicted in this film as an emotional poet with a reserved personality, but this characteristic trait becomes more obvious with the contrast of his lover, Fanny, who comes from a wealthy background and is flirtatious.
While Keats tries to explore his feelings of all kinds in natural surroundings, similar to how many romantic poets do, and then expressing these heartfelt emotions through words, he feels tremendously blue and helpless at the acknowledgement of the great gap between their social status. The poem “la belle dame sans merci” hence is written in this context, the infectious recitation of it by the leading actor in the film also brings this contradicted feeling he has towards Fanny into the picture.
Keats proposed the idea of ‘negative capability’ in many of his letters.
He suggests that the quality of a piece of literary work depends on how long a poet can linger in the state of perplexity and distress.
As he says in the film when giving Fanny a poetry lesson: “The point of diving in a lake, is not immediately to swim to the shore, but to be in the lake.” Meaningful lines as such bring Keats back to life, while at the same time show his internal struggle when facing his brother’s death and the fact that he could not pursue Fanny as an unwealthy man. The poet eventually died of tuberculosis in Italy a few months after their engagement.
The film ends with Fanny walking down the path that Keats usually took, reciting the poem Bright Star in a mournful voice. Though in reality it has yet been proven if this poem is dedicated to Fanny or not, the audience can still tell how much this gifted poet suffered in the last few years of his life through these heartbreaking lines, and his desire to burn like a star and to perpetually stay by Fanny’s side.
None of us can estimate how much pain Keats would have to go through. After seeing the film, I couldn’t help but wonder, if everything is eventually going to disappear, what’s the point of love and life, and what’s the point of being an artist? Poetry, in this case, is the answer.
Following on from this article, another heartfelt written piece of work that may be of interest to the reader comes from Dolly Aldertons – Everything I know about love