NaPoWriMo Poem 2– Writ in Water?


While traveling in Italy, I had the immense privilege of visiting both the house where John Keats died on the Piazza de Spagna and his grave in the non-Catholic ceremony. Both of these visits were extremely emotional for me, as I have always felt a profound connection to Keats’ words and work, as well as been deeply moved by the tragedy of his short life. This poem was inspired by my visit to his grave (Oscar Wilde wrote a sonnet under the same circumstances, but I do not pretend to contend with such mastery).

Writ in Water?


Writ in water?

The water of our tears

The tears of Fanny

And all the Fannys that have come after her in spirit

Those of us who have never forgotten – would not, could not

Like your bright star, steadfast in our love

Walking the heaths of our minds

Affianced to your poetry forevermore

A keen grief awoken afresh in those who discover

your “things of beauty that are joys forever”

So few but all so precious

Left to wonder what more could have been writ and what love enjoyed

A genius, a resplendent spirit, a true poet

Gone from us too soon

Didst anyone understand the beauty of this world so well as you?

The joy and tragedy all contained within a single landscape

The heart aches to think of it

A profound understanding of nature and words

Overflowing from your soul

And a truer, deeper love than most of us can hope for

All hung within your grasp and cruelly snatched away

An awareness of Fate’s own cruelty

A keen sense of what you would lose

What you still had left to do

What we have all lost in so early a death

Didst any suffer a death so hard as yours?

Consumed…in so many ways

By poetry and a searing first love

Then cruelly by nature

In breathing life in to your immortal words you lost your own

You thought all would forget

Like the ripple of a stone in water

But you whose name is writ in water

Forgot its power

How the sea would take Shelley

How a storm can ravage a mountain

Like the ever-present cycle of the tides

Immortality is yours

Such sorrow that you could not see it

Could not be with your Fanny forever

When all those who love poetry

Who are in love with love and its profundity

Those who feel deeply the sublime, almost unbearable beauty of nature

Keep you eternally in our hearts

The violets you so loved have gone

A mop of greens spilling over in their place

I’ll bring you violets and kneel

Before this place of sadness and beauty

Where you might finally have peace

And weep for your numerous sorrows

But smile knowing what you have given so many

The man whose name was writ in water but

Etched on my heart and soul


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