The Love Found in Poetry

Exploring the perspective of poetry presented in the 2009 movie ‘Bright Star’ which tells the life of Poet John Keats and his love Fanny Brawne.

“The point of diving in a lake is not immediately to swim to the shore, but to be in the lake, to luxuriate in the sensation of water. You do not work the lake out. It is an experience beyond thought. Poetry soothes and emboldens the soul to accept mystery.” This quote from the movie struck me when I heard it as it is an explanation for how one is to approach all poetry. Often when one is faced with a piece of poetry, they approach it like a puzzle. They assume each part has a place in the entire narrative and that they must analyze it all to better understand the full meaning of the poem.

But there is more to a lake than trying to understand its depth, breadth, and what lives in it. A lake is full of beauty and serenity, of peace and quiet. A poem is like this too. People cannot approach a poem as if it is a math problem to be solved, but rather they must approach it with curiosity and excitement. They must explore the lake with enthusiasm and excitement, enjoying it as they go along. They must dive into its depth happily and with an open mind, willing to feel the lake around them. A poem is often full of emotion that one must seek to feel and be enveloped in for a time before they decide to end their journey.

At the start of the movie, Fanny was more on the side of those who approach poetry as a puzzle or math equation. She could understand the beauty in a poem, but other than that the florid words made no impact on her. Upon getting to know Mr. Keats, though, she soon became interested in trying to know and understand how poetry worked. But, she approached the first lesson with her usual mindset: that she must understand the parameters of poetry and its structure. While this is important to know, she seemed to believe that once she understood the system that exists in poetry that she would be able to understand all poetry.

It is with the quote mentioned above that Mr. Keats refutes that idea. Poetry is messy and complex; oftentimes people are so focused on understanding a poem that they do not allow themselves the chance to relish in it and- like Mr. Keats said -they do not accept the sense of mystery that each holds. In trying to understand this way, they miss the forest for the trees or they reach the end without even enjoying the journey that it took to get to that result.

Mr. Keats himself already understands this fact very well, having dedicated his life towards the endeavor of mapping out ‘lakes’ and areas of his knowledge and understanding of the world around him. Yet, it is through his love of Fanny that his understanding of the world and the emotion of love is expanded, leading to an increase in his poetry writing as she inspires him.

As for Fanny, though at first she did not seem to understand the point of poetry, as she gets to know Mr. Keats and falls in love with him, feeling that romantic emotion for the first time, the beauty of the world around her begins to show itself in her understanding. She begins to stop approaching poetry with just her mind and thoughts and instead approaches it with her heart. She stops trying to puzzle out the words and instead seems to live off the emotions that are to be found in what Mr. Keats writes for the public and for her. 

One of the most fascinating developments of the relationship shown in this movie is how they begin to speak to one another in poetry; how that becomes the best way for each of them to express their emotions. One quickly loses count of just how many of Keats’ poems are recited in this movie, between both the two main characters. By the end of the movie, words are no longer needed as the two are connected in their very hearts and know each other’s feelings inside and out. It is through the very realm of poetry that this connection was created, a love that seemed to defy all realistic explanation to the ones around them.

No one else seemed to understand the connection between Fanny and John, due to its very basis being in poetry and emotion. This fact culminates beautifully at the end of the movie: when Fanny finds out that John Keats has died, she is beside herself with grief, now that her love is truly gone from the world. The last scene we see of her is her walking in the woods, reciting one of his poems, the emotions created from it clear on her expression and in her tone of voice. She has truly evolved as a person throughout this entire movie and it is all to do with the poems that came from the mind and lips of her love, John Keats.