When I Have Fears That I May Cease To Be by John Keats

This poem falls under 2 significant idea groups:

* Keats reveals his worry of dying young in the first thought system, lines 1-12. He fears that he will not meet himself as an author (lines 1-8) which he will lose his precious (lines 9-12).

* Keats fixes his worries by asserting the unimportance of love and popularity in the concluding 2 and a half lines of this sonnet.

The very first quatrain (four lines) emphasizes both how fertile his imagination is and just how much he needs to express; hence the images of the harvest, e.

g., "obtain 'd," "garners," "full ripen 'd grain." Discreetly reinforcing this idea is the alliteration of the essential words "glean 'd," garners," and "grain," along with the repetition of r sounds in "charactery," "rich," "garners,"ripen 'd," and "grain.". A harvest is, obviously, satisfaction in time, the culmination which yields a valued item, as shown in the grain being "complete ripen 'd." Abundance is also obvious in the adjectives "high-piled" and "abundant.

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" The harvest metaphor consists of a paradox (paradox is a characteristic of Keats's poetry and idea): Keats is both the field of grain (his imagination resembles the grain to be gathered) and he is the harvester (writer of poetry).

In the next quatrain (lines 5-8), he sees the world as loaded with product he could change into poetry (his is "the magic hand")-- the appeal of nature ("night's starr 'd deal with) and the larger meanings he views beneath the appearance of nature or physical phenomena ("Big cloudy symbols").

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In the 3rd quatrain (lines 9-12), he turns to love. As the "reasonable creature of an hour," his precious is short-term just as, by ramification, love is. The quatrain itself parallels the concept of little time, in being only 3 and a half lines, instead of the typical four lines of a Shakespearean sonnet; the effect in reading is of a small speeding-up of time. Is love as important as, less crucial than, or similarly crucial as poetry for Keats in this poem? Does the fact that he devotes less lines to love than to poetry recommend anything about their relative value to him?

The poet's concern with time (not enough time to fulfill his poetic gift and love) is supported by the repetition of "when" at the beginning of each quatrain and by the shortening of the third quatrain. Keats attributes two qualities to love: (1) it has the ability to transform the world for the lovers ("faery power"), but of course fairies are not real, and their enchantments are an illusion and (2) love involves us with emotion rather than thought ("I feel" and "unreflecting love").

Reflecting upon his feelings, which the act of writing this sonnet has involved, Keats achieves some distancing from his own feelings and ordinary life, so he is able to reach a resolution. He thinks about the human solitariness ("I stand alone") and human insignificance (the implicit contrast betwen his lone self and "the wide world"). The shore is a point of contact, the threshold between two worlds or conditions, land and sea; so Keats is crossing a threshold, from his desire for fame and love to accepting their unimportance and ceasing to fear and yearn.

Updated: Nov 01, 2022
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When I Have Fears That I May Cease To Be by John Keats. (2016, Jul 02). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/when-i-have-fears-that-i-may-cease-to-be-by-john-keats-essay

When I Have Fears That I May Cease To Be by John Keats essay
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