"This Living Hand"

Explore Keats' chilling masterpiece "This living hand" - a poetic exploration of life, mortality, and haunting presence. Learn its profound impact on you.

"This Living Hand"
Battered by tuberculosis, John Keats composed "This living hand, now warm and capable." It may or may not be addressed to his fiancée Fanny Brawne, who he declined to marry due to his failing health.
Keats warns of a haunting presence from beyond the grave: his own dead hand. This hand would "haunt thy days and chill thy dreaming nights" until you'd wish "thine own heart dry of blood."
This living hand, now warm and capable Of earnest grasping, would, if it were cold And in the icy silence of the tomb, So haunt thy days and chill thy dreaming nights
That thou would wish thine own heart dry of blood So in my veins red life might stream again, And thou be conscience-calmed – see here it is – I hold it towards you.
Keats is grasping for a warm connection before the "icy silence of the tomb." Similar to a *carpe diem* poem, he's urging the living to seize the warmth of life before the "conscience-calm'd." Keats died in 1921, a year after this poem was written.

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John Keats Collection