200 years ago, Keats met Mrs Isabella Jones and ‘warmed with her’

On Sunday 25 May 1817 (Whit Sunday), Keats met Isabella Jones at Bo-Peep (now St Leonards-on-Sea). He would later tell his brothers that he had ‘warmed with her … and kissed her’. So this was more than just sitting in the sunshine together, as this poem (which is associated with her) suggests:

You say you love; but with a voice
Chaster than a nun’s, who singeth
The soft vespers to herself
While the chime-bell ringeth —
O love me truly!

You say you love; but with a smile
Cold as sunrise in September,
As you were Saint Cupid’s nun,
And kept his weeks of Ember.
O love me truly!

You say you love; but then your lips
Coral-tinted teach no blisses
More than coral in the sea —
They never pout for kisses —
O love me truly!

You say you love; but then your hand
No soft squeeze for squeeze returneth,
It is like a statue’s, dead —
While mine to passion burneth —
O love me truly!

O breathe a word or two of fire!
Smile, as if those words should burn me,
Squeeze as lovers should — O kiss
And in thy heart inurn me!
O love me truly!

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