At the behest of one Zack Sulsky I am mustering up the energy to write another blog post. Be warned, he said it was okay if I complained, so I probably will.
First things first: Spring Break was quite splendid. My paramour of the hour, Matthew, came to Rome and was gawked at by all of the little Italians because of his absurd height. He also brought me popcorn and Doritos. All in all, we managed to have a grand ol’ time. I am not sure if I can express to you how very wonderful it was to be in the city and not have to work all the time. It really is a miraculous place, full of gelato and small dogs. Plus, I finally got to go to the one monument in Rome I actually care about seeing: the grave of John Keats.
I first encountered this poet when I was but a wee high school freshmen. We were required to do research papers and as my teacher called us to his desk one by one to tell us what we would be writing about, he simply said, “You’ll do Keats. It makes sense.” I don’t remember much about the paper, but then, does one ever remember much about falling in love? I do remember that when the paper was returned, my teacher commented: “You know the saddest part? He didn’t even think he was any good. What’s written on his grave is, “Here lies one whose name was writ in water.” That means he thought he wouldn’t last.” And it is sad. Horribly sad. Beautifully sad. I fell for him the way that upper middle-class white girls fall for boys with tattoos that say, “Fuck the police”–that is to say, desperately.
When Keats fell ill with tuberculosis, he was sent to Rome in the hopes that the climate or something would heal him–Alas, it didn’t work. He was buried in the non-Catholic cemetery, which lies just behind the Pyramid of Cestius. When we went there it was a fine morning: birds and sunshine and a springtime breeze. For realz, the Protestant Cemetery is one of the most beautiful places in Rome, and the most interesting. For starters, it also doubles as a cat sanctuary. Awesome. Then, it has tombstones with some of the best names I have ever seen (Sir Willoughby Wade, Cornelia Peacock Connelley, Pier Pander, Hedwig Herschman, Ursula Spinelli, Devereux Plantagenet Cockburn…). Plus, Percy Shelley is buried there, and FUCKING JOHN KEATS IS BURIED THERE.
After we arrived I carefully calculated the path we would take to Keats’ grave so that I would get to have some alone time there. Good Lord. It was so beautiful. And sad. I just love things that are beautiful and sad.
It's like we're totally making out right now
It was absolutely blissful. I cried tears of joy. But I couldn’t help but notice the little grave right next to his:
WTF? How do you “accidentally kill” an infant??
Anyway, we remained there for quite some time, but did eventually depart. Little did I know that I would actually get to encounter my true love AGAIN that very day at the Spanish Steps. He lived in a house right by there when he was in Rome. There is a museum in there. A beautiful, beautiful museum. I got to be in the room where he died…or as I like to think of it, the room where he lived. *shudders with pleasure* Actually though, this museum is baller. It has just the kind of strange things you would expect the 19th century friends of a Romantic poet to keep, like locks of his hair.
I think it is also important to note that the card beside this read: Mr. Keats’s hair was remarkable for its beauty, its flowing grace and fineness. It was a kind of ideal, poetical hair; and the locks we possess…are beautiful specimens…[We see them and] remember the poet was a young man, and manly in spirit as he was beautiful.
Break was a really wonderful break from Centro life. Alas, it did not refresh me as I had hoped. Instead, it only put into clearer contrast the difference between something you really love (JOHN KEATS) and something you don’t (er, Classics). Thus, the next few weeks seem even longer than before. I’m worried about my grades and I never want to translate Latin ever again (well, maybe sometimes). I feel like I’m awkwardly breaking up with my boyfriend while we’re on vacation together (don’t worry Matt, that’s just a metaphor), complete with frequent surges of guilt. It’s not you, Classics, it’s me….But nevertheless, I am working to overcome my surly nature and enjoy what time I have left here. I know that while I am writing a 10-page commentary on Latin Epigraphy seven weeks seems like a really long time, but by the time it’s over it will have gone by very quickly, and all I’ll have left are memories, pictures, and the faint taste of gelato in my mouth as I fly back to the good ol’ U.S. of A. Oh, and that ROMA shot glass.