AP Literature; Period 2
August 23rd 2010
“When I Have Fears” and “Mezzo Cammin” Essay
In the two poems, “When I Have Fears” by John Keats and “Mezzo Cammin” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, both of the poets deal with the death that they believe is quickly approaching them and think back to their regrets in life. Keats during the time when this poem had been written had just seen his brother die of tuberculosis and due to this he believed he too would soon die. Longfellow at the time writing his poem had been 35 and due to this was most likely experiencing a mid-life crisis. Similarities between the two poems include the poem’s theme and the thoughts of death that the two men are dealing with. The main difference between the two poems deal with Keats’ fear of not being able to finish writing before he dies and shows this by the metaphors and structure. Longfellow‘s poem then in comparison shows the author dealing with his regrets for his life and not being able to move on from that with the use of imagery, diction and extended metaphor.
“When I Have Fears” covers many points on Keats fear of death that Longfellow does not. Keats mainly focuses on his goals of writing. Even in his first line we are able to see how much he fears death. He states that when he has fears that he “may cease to be”(Keats 1), in this understatement he shows his fear to even say the word death. Instead he replaces it with a less direct way of sharing his fear. Keats wishes to write so many books that the amount will be a huge pile of his works. Using “rich garners the full ripen’d grain”(4), gives an idea of the amount of book he pictures that he will write in the future. However, he fears that he “may never live to trace”(7), the glorious books that he will one day write. The use of the metaphor of clouds which you are not able to hold show that he really feels he will never be able to finish. He goes on to say that if he may not write his...
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