‘A little thing I wrote off to some music as it was playing’

From around 200 years ago, Keats’s ‘little thing I wrote off to some music as it was playing’:

I had a dove and the sweeet dove died,
And I have thought it died of grieving.
Oh, what could it grieve for? Its feet were tied
With a silken thread of my own hand’s weaving.
Sweet little red feet! Why should you die—
Why would you leave me, sweet dove! Why?
You lived alone on the forest-tree,
Why, pretty thing, could you not live with me?
I kissed you oft and gave you white peas;
Why not live sweetly, as in the green trees?

(From Keats’s journal letter to George and Georgiana Keats, section dated 3 January 1819.)

On Monday 14 January 2019 the Keats Foundation will celebrate the 200th anniversary of Keats’s poem ‘The Eve of St Agnes’ with a reading at The Art Gallery, Guildhall, Gresham Street, London, EC2V 7HH, starting at 6pm.


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