“This Living Hand” by John Keats

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 wouldst 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.

The living hand I am extending towards you, now capable of earnest grasping. When death occurs the same hand drained of its red life will haunt your days and chill your nights. And it will make you wish that the blood coursing in your living veins be drained and instead flow in the dead poet’s veins. That will set at rest your conscience.

Whether or not it was meant for Fanny Brawne , the poem does indeed raise gloomy thoughts . A poem written in the last years of the young poet who knew he was dying would speak of a state of existence in death- a hand ,now living and capable of grasping would lie in the tomb ,cold and drained of blood. The thoughts are of a living man projecting his existence on to an existence devoid of life. The process of the living hand transforming to lifelessness can only be imagined by a living man about to die. The poem makes the reader project his own conscious life on to such an existence as though the poet is holding his hand towards him.

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