1000 days!

In my last post I talked about the walking tour which John Keats took in the summer of 1818. Beginning in the Lake District, in north west England, then north into Scotland along the west coast. Keats stopped to visit the birth place of Robert Burns (1759-1796). He tried to write some lines while in the cottage and commented in a letter to his younger brother Tom that he was too distracted and discarded the lines. However his walking companion managed to save that scrap and the lines are preserved and today the sonnet is entitled “This mortal body of a thousand days”
Keats no doubt pondering life and the uncertainty of health. He feared that his brother Tom had not long to live (Tom died before the year end of 1818). Keats himself was aware of his own fragile state of health. How long would he live and what of fame or legacy. Much has been written about this walking tour. If you have time you might find the following article enlightening. https://kenyonreview.org/journal/summer-2007/selections/this-mortal-body/ Little did Keats know, (or with his medical training did he know) his own death would be just 50 days short of a 1000 when he scribbled his sonnet in Burns’ cottage!

This mortal body of a thousand days

This mortal body of a thousand days
Now fills, O Burns, a space in thine own room,
Where thou didst dream alone on budded bays,
Happy and thoughtless of thy day of doom!
My pulse is warm with thine old barley-bree,
My head is light with pledging a great soul,
My eyes are wandering, and I cannot see,
Fancy is dead and drunken at its goal;
Yet can I stamp my foot upon thy floor,
Yet can I ope thy window-sash to find
The meadow thou hast tramped o’er and o’er,–
Yet can I think of thee till thought is blind,–
Yet can I gulp a bumper to thy name,–
O smile among the shades, for this is fame! 1818 John Keats

Holy God,
Each day of life is not a promise, but a gift.
Help us to respect this gift and embrace the
potential and possibility of each living moment.
Lord God,
not every day is easy to live,
some days come with challenge and uncertainty.
Encourage us along the way with
unending grace and mercy,
that even in the toils of life’s hardships
or health’s challenges
which may journey with us days, months or years,
might we
be comforted and strengthened
in soul
by your unlimited love O Holy God,
and by the unending love of those
closest and dearest to us. Amen.

One thought on “1000 days!

  1. I am enjoying this post a great deal. Earlier this week we hiked in the woods of Robert Frost’s farm and I got to thinking of his poetry. I’ve often read of similarities in Frosts’ poetry to Keats’ and in my favorite Frost poem, Choose Something Like A Star, I recall the phrase, “as steadfast as Keats’ Eremite…” and assume Frost had admiration for Keats’ romanticism. Whether true or not, I like to think so. And you are certainly right that we have not been given a promise but a gift that gives more everyday when we allow it.


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