Keats: “This living hand, now warm and capable”


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-calm’d –see here it is–
I hold it towards you.


A short verse from John Keats, first brought to my attention by my brother. He is studying literature at a postgraduate level, and told me once that this poem, upon his first reading it, caused such a shiver and kept such an unsettling hold on him that he could recall the lines days later, unable to shake himself of the grasp of it. And now, I can’t shake this hand from my shoulder, either. It is romantic, but in the most haunting sense. 

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