Some of the letters contained in this slim book were so beautiful, I annoyed my husband my insisting I read portions out loud to him. Two of my favori...moreSome of the letters contained in this slim book were so beautiful, I annoyed my husband my insisting I read portions out loud to him. Two of my favorites:
"I almost wish we were butterflies and liv'd but three summer days - three such days with you I could fill with more delight than fifty common years could ever contain." (p4)
"I will imagine you Venus tonight and pray, pray, pray to your star like a Heathen." (p11)
That said, Mr. Keats was an overly emotional, whiny, brooding mess. He spends a great deal of time waiting (even looking forward to?) his death. On the back cover is a quote that displays this nicely: "I have two luxuries to brood over...your Loveliness and the hour of my death." Death is luxurious, eh? His letters were frequently weighed down with similar dreary sentiments, which quickly annoyed me.
But my biggest complain about the book is that I don't believe it's as romantic as everyone has led me to believe. He writes pages and pages about how much he adores Fanny, but when it comes right down to it, he's not doing much to back up those claims. Numerous times he mentions forgetting to write to her while in the throes of a new poem, or not going to see her when he has the chance. For example: "If I were a little less selfish and more enthusiastic I should run round and surprise you with a knock at the door." (p52)
Therein lies the problem: a person's actions often tell much more about their feelings/character than their words to. So Keats can write about how much he loves her until his hand falls off, but when he's clearly not jumping at the chance to see her, I don't buy it. To me, a great love story would be one where Keats leaves his sick bed or puts down his poem-in-progress because he must see his love this moment, or otherwise he will perish. It's much easier to say something than to actually act upon it, and Keats was either lazy or not that in love, both of which I find obnoxious (with regards to this book).(less)
Ugh. This was annoyingly gimmicky - Hey, let's inspire kids who hate poetry by showing them a story of a kid just like them who grows to love it! It w...moreUgh. This was annoyingly gimmicky - Hey, let's inspire kids who hate poetry by showing them a story of a kid just like them who grows to love it! It was so obviously an adult trying to write as a child that it was painful at times. Maybe I'm more sensitive to this than other adults because, as a teacher, I read a lot of students' writing. Whatever the case, I cringed multiple times while reading this.
And the publisher's description of the book called it "heartwarming"....hmmm, dogs hit by cars now make heartwarming stories? For who, psychos? Maybe a student learning to love poetry is heartwarming, but it's hard to see past the sadness of a boy watching his dog get killed.
There were a few bright points (which bumped it up from one star to two): 1. The "dialogue" between the student and teacher, which we only see through the student's reactions to the teacher's comments, was cute. As in, "Oh fine, you can put it on the board, but don't put my name on it!" 2. His trouble to understand poetry in the beginning was cute and more believable than the rest of the book. His confusion over why he had to explain the blue car when the other poet didn't have to explain his red wagon was particularly adorable.(less)