When I Have Fears That I May Cease to Be John Keats - Analysis

Topics: Poetry, Love, Romance Pages: 2 (356 words) Published: February 1, 2009
Maciej Michalak

When I Have Fears That I May Cease To Be – John Keats - Analysis

WHEN I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has glean'd my teeming brain,
Before high piled books, in charactry,
Hold like rich garners the full ripen'd grain;
When I behold, upon the night's starr'd face, 5
Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,
And think that I may never live to trace
Their shadows, with the magic hand of chance;
And when I feel, fair creature of an hour,
That I shall never look upon thee more, 10
Never have relish in the fairy power
Of unreflecting love;—then on the shore
Of the wide world I stand alone, and think
Till Love and Fame to nothingness do sink.

Keats' poem is a Shakespearean Sonnet. In first quatrain, narrator shows fear of unexpected death which would deprive him of chance to express all the ideas he has in his mind. He has been collecting them through whole life and it is extremely important to fulfill himself as a writer. In second quatrain narrator admires beauty of nature which inspires, creates and stirs romantic feelings. Line “Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance” confirms he could perfectly alter it to poetry with larger meanings. In the third quatrain, he’s talking about love. Narrator is afraid that he won’t be able to love and delight in its transformed world before death. Through words “then on the shore / of the wide world I stand alone”, he points out the loneliness of poet who has his own coast of deep feelings and emotions. The sonnet ends with expression of fear of adversity in love and fame due to sudden death.

The theme of the sonnet is poet’s fear of dying before fulfilling poetic dreams, becoming famous and finding love.

The sonnet is not aimed at all people but specifically at the poets as most of them have fears of not fulfilling themselves as writers before dying. I think that all the poets would like this sonnet because it truly reflects their...
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