John Keats: When I Have Fears That I May Cease to Be

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John Keats: When I have Fears that I May Cease to Be

John Keats was a famous romantic poet whose work was characterized mainly by his use of diction, tone, and other literary devices to create sensual imagery in his works of poetry. Throughout the Elizabethan sonnet, When I have Fears that I May Cease to Be, one can see that Keats reflected his thoughts on life and death personal real life circumstances; ones he was facing during the time he wrote the poem. By using a combination of various literary techniques, he leaves the reader with a powerful impression of his own emotions. The main emotion he expresses throughout his sonnet is his fear of death and of not having enough time to live his life. Through the poem, Keats hopes to address and express his fears in hopes to overcome them. Similar to many other romantic poets of that era, Keats, through this poem, is attempting to confront his fears and is hoping to overcome his pain.

One example of this romantic poets portrayal of his feelings would be the sonnet, When I have fears that I may cease to be. The beginning quatrain expresses Keats’ innermost fear. “When I have fears that I may cease to be, (Keats 111)” stated in line one, implies several different meanings. Keats is expressing how he fears that death will prevent him from fulfilling a meaningful life. The poem also conveys a deep fear of fame he might never realize. The poem expresses that Keats is afraid of not being able to experience a great love in his life without having to face the thought of death, which refers back to the fact that Keats is dealing with a fatal illness as he is writing this sonnet. This line illustrates a great deal of desperation and hopelessness in the future and the poet’s long-term goals.

Lines five through eight further elaborate on Keats sadness towards death. He goes on to explain how he will never be able to trace the shadows of “huge cloudy symbols of a high romance”. Here he is expressing how he fears...
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