Natural history in Keats's letters

I think of green fields. I muse with the greatest affection on every flower I have known from my infancy--their shapes and colours as are [for are as] new to me as if I had just created them with a superhuman fancy--It is because they are connected with the most thoughtless and happiest moments of our Lives--I have seen foreign flowers in hothouses of the most beautiful nature, but I do not care a straw for them. The simple flowers of our sp[r]ing are what I want to see again. (To Fanny Brawne, February (?) 1820)

For in the wild nature the Hawk would loose his Breakfast of Robins and the Robin his of Worms The Lion must starve as well as the swallow--The greater part of Men make their way with the same instinctiveness, the same unwandering eye from their purposes, the same animal eagerness as the Hawk--The Hawk wants a Mate, so does the Man--look at them both they set about it and procure on[e] in the same manner--They want both a nest and they both set about one in the manner--The noble animal Man for his amusement smokes his pipe--the Hawk balances about the Clouds--that is the only difference of their leisures. (To George and Georgiana Keats, Friday, March 19, 1819)

Now it appears to me that almost any Man may like the Spider spin from his own inwards his own airy Citadel--the points of leaves and twigs on which the Spider begins her work are few and she fills the Air with a beautiful circuiting (To J. H. Reynolds, 19 February 1818)

It has been an old Comparison for our urging on--the Bee hive--however it seems to me that we should rather be the flower than the Bee--for it is a false notion that more is gained by receiving than giving. . . The f[l]ower I doubt not receives a fair guerdon from the Bee--its leaves blush deeper in the next spring (To J. H. Reynolds, 19 February 1818)

Would we were a sort of ethereal Pigs, & turn'd loose to feed upon spiritual Mast & Acorns--which would be merely being a squirrel & feed upon filberts, for what is a squirrel but an airy pig, or filbert but a sort of archangelical acorn. (To J. H. Reynolds, 3 February 1818)

How beautiful the retired flowers! how would they lose their beauty were they to throng into the highway crying out, "admire me I am a violet! dote upon me I am a primrose["] . . . why should we kick against the Pricks, when we can walk on Roses? Why should we be owls, when we can be Eagles? (To J. H. Reynolds, 3 February 1818)

That sentence about making a Page of the feelings of a whole life appears to me like a Whale's back in the Sea of Prose (To Leigh Hunt, 10 May 1817)

Touch him . . . and he whips you his head away as fast as a Snail's Horn (To Taylor and Hessey, 16 May 1817)

I see swarms of Porpupines with their Quills erect "like lime-twigs set to catch my Winged Book" and I would fright 'em away with a torch (To J. H. Reynolds, 9 April 1818)

I lay awake last night--listening to the Rain with a sense of being drown'd and rotted like a grain of wheat--There is a continual courtesy between the Heavens and the Earth.--the heavens rain down their unwelcomeness, and the Earth sends it up again to be returned to morrow. (To J. H. Reynolds, 27 April 1818) 

Have you not seen a Gull, an orc, a sea Mew, or any thing to bring this Line to a proper length, and also fill up this clear part; that like the Gull I may dip--I hope, not out of sight--and also, like a Gull, I hope to be lucky in a good sized fish (To J. H. Reynolds, 3 May 1818)

I ordered some bulbous roots for you at the Gardeners, and they sent me some, but they were all in bud--and could not be sent, so I put them in our Garden. There are some beautiful heaths now in bloom in Pots--either heaths or some seasonable plants I will send you instead (To Fanny Keats, 12 April 1819)

I forgot game I must plead guilty to the breast of a Partridge, the back of a hare, the backbone of a grouse, the wing and side of a Pheasant and a Woodcock passim (To George and Georgiana Keats, Friday, February 18 [for 19th], 1819)

I have been very much pleased with the Panorama of the ships at the north Pole--with the icebergs, the Mountains, the Bears the Walrus--the seals the Penguins--and a large whale floating back above water--it is impossible to describe the place (To George and Georgiana Keats, Friday, March 19, 1819)

I almost wish we were butterflies and liv'd but three summer days (To Fanny Brawne, 1 July 1819)

I have of late been moulting: not of fresh feathers & wings: they are gone . . . I have altered, not from a Chrysalis into a butterfly, but the Contrary. (To J. H. Reynolds, 11 July 1819)

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