AP Lit and Comp 6
11 April 2011
Timed Essay Corrections—When I Have Fears and Mezzo Cammin
As people near the time of their deaths, they begin to reflect upon the history and events of their own lives. Both John Keats’ “When I have Fears” and Henry Longfellow’s “Mezzo Cammin” reflect upon the speakers’ fears and thoughts of death. However, the conclusions between these two poems end quite differently. Although both reflect upon Death’s grasp, Keats’ displays an appreciation and subtle satisfaction with the wonders of life, while Longfellow morbidly mourns his past inactions and fears what events the future may bring.
The two poems are similar in their corresponding feeling of dread for death. Using diction, Keats reflects on how he “may cease to be” and how he “may never live.” Similarly, Longfellow states that “[h]alf of [his] life is gone” and that the “years slip from” him. Both narrators then continue to lament their fears of not accomplishing everything they had once aspired to do. Keats uses an anaphora of “when” in order to illustrate the various and wide-ranging fears that are related to death. He also uses the anaphora of “before” in order to further accentuate his concerns of dying before he is able to accomplish various educational yearnings. Similarly, Longfellow also acknowledges his failure in fulfilling “the aspiration of [his] youth” or in building a “tower of song with lofty parapet.” This tower symbolizes a success of literary prowess and legacy the speaker had once hoped to wish for. He realizes that he will not accomplish everything he had once wanted. Both of these poems are ultimately similar in that they both illustrate men who fear that their lives will be coming to an end.
The two poems differ in that Keats’ poem sheds more appreciation for the life he has led in comparison to the morbid tones that Longfellow’s poem displays. In “When I Have Fears,” Keats uses imagery in order to describe his feelings about...