Things of Beauty: Embracing Trees, Leaves, and English Romantic Poet John Keats

Aug Lynch M and C2 (2)     If we’re lucky, we live in the embrace of trees: in nearby forests, parks, backyards, gardens, landscapes, and dreamscapes.

     When young, I drew them, climbed them, and looked for bugs, birds, and tiny creatures among their branches. Their lush greenery still shades me on dreamy days of reading and picnics.

     Summer lures us outside to experience trees in all their wonder, but don’t ignore other seasons. Appearances may change, but, to borrow from Keats, their beauty is a joy forever.

Scene from the film, Bright Star

John Keats (/ˈkiːts/; 31 October 1795 – 23 February 1821) one of my favorite poets, was featured in movie Bright Star, (2009) written & directed by Academy Award winner Jane Campion.  Bright Star, also the title of one of his poems, envisions the three-year romance (1819-1821) of young early 19th century poet John Keats and Fanny Brawne. In early 19th Century England, as the Industrial Revolution was underway, many of the so-called major second generation ‘romantic poets’ such as Keats, Lord Byron, and Percy Bysshe Shelley, idealized nature and classical images in their writing. The film plays with such imagery, featuring trees as inspiration, scenery, and metaphor to celebrate the couple’s love.  Keats’ poems were not published until the last four years of his life, and most were tepidly received. But after his death he became one of the most beloved English poets. His poems and letters remain some of the most popular and most analysed in English literature. (from Wikipedia)

     In the film, one poem Fanny recites is  A Thing of Beauty. The words seem to echo Keats aspirations and desires. Even when he falls ill, he remains optimistic, his words lighting the way for all who travel that final path, and all who wish to live their lives with meaning. Because of this, and because, I guess, I’m also a romantic, I love this poem. I hope you will, too.

Trees at Longwood Gardens, in PA


A thing of beauty is a joy for ever: Its loveliness increases; it will never Pass into nothingness; but still will keep A bower quiet for us, and a sleep Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing. Therefore, on every morrow, are we wreathing A flowery band to bind us to the earth, Spite of despondence, of the inhuman dearth Of noble natures, of the gloomy days, Of all the unhealthy and o’er-darkn’d ways Made for our searching: yes, in spite of all, Some shape of beauty moves away the pall From our dark spirits. Such the sun, the moon, Trees old and young, sprouting a shady boon For simple sheep; and such are daffodils With the green world they live in; and clear rills That for themselves a cooling covert make ‘Gainst the hot season; the mid-forest brake, Rich with a sprinkling of fair musk-rose blooms: And such too is the grandeur of the dooms We have imagined for the mighty dead; An endless fountain of immortal drink, Pouring unto us from the heaven’s brink.


Pictures from the film, Bright Star

Bright Star, the film, is filled with star-crossed romance, trees, flowers, the rural English landscape, country life, Regency fashion, music, and poetry. And though their future was star-crossed, during their courtship, Fanny was young Keats’ ‘bright star’. Their love endured in Keats’ beautiful, sensual poems– words he entwined with love and nature imagery into a shining whole.

Read Keats–hopefully sitting under, or even in, a tree. I read his work in college and still admire him to this day.

And if you haven’t already, watch this gorgeous, incandescent film!


About the Poet:

Trailer-Info- Bright Star, the film:


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Scene from the film, Bright Star

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