“When I have fears that I may cease to be” was a poem written by John Keats in the year of 1818 and it is a poem in which Keats works with two of the most discussed themes in his poems and the of the Romantic movement: the love and the time.
The lyric poem was written in the form of an English or Shakespearean sonnet, which can be characterized, according to Strand (2001, p. 55), by having fourteen lines, an iambic pentameter meter (five feet with an unstressed and a stressed syllable) and the following rhyme scheme: ababcdcdefefgg. Moreover, the poem is divided in three quatrains and a final couplet. In a way of observing its formal aspects that were just mentioned, let us take a look at “When I have Fears That I May Cease to Be”: The main topic of the poem, as we can infer already by its title, is the brevity of life/death. Keats, however, does not discuss this topic in a common way, but he focusses in the feelings that the I lyrical feel when he has this fear of death. This way, the poet tries to discuss not only the fear of death itself, but also the failures that can happen while the I lyrical is still alive.
Nevertheless, one interesting fact is that, when he wrote “When I have fears that I may cease to be”, Keats had already been diagnosed with tuberculosis and was probably really feeling afraid of a possible premature death (a …show more content…
In his article (in which the author discusses the social-philosophical context of the poem), Fejérvari argues that the portrait of death in “When I have Fears That I May Cease to Be” can be considered under three different points of view: as the end of the poet’s existence merely; as a moment that will interrupt the poet’s career; or, finally, as the moment when he will lose his lover. In the present analysis, we have observed that the poet, actually, portrays death as being these three moments of his life (and each of them in a certain part of the
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While both Keats and Longfellow often reflect on their own unfulfilled dreams and impending deaths, the poems however contrast on their own dispositions towards death and the future. Here, Keats expresses a fear of not having enough time to accomplish all that he believes he is capable of doing, but as he recognizes the enormity of the world and his own limitations of life, he realizes that his own mortal goals are meaningless in the long run of things. On the other hand, Longfellow speaks of a regret towards his inaction for allowing time to slip away from him in his past and is at a crossroads for the ominous future that looms ahead of him. Through the use of light and dark imagery, and personification, Keats and Longfellow similarly yet also differently, reflect on their own ideas for death and the futures that lay ahead of them.
Everyone is fearful of dying. However, because each individual is unique, everyone has different levels of fear and varying regrets. In the early 1800s, a young poet named John Keats wrote “When I Have Fears” in which he explains his fears and regrets about death. Employing devices such as sophisticated abstract diction, figurative language, and symbols, John Keats shows that living as if tomorrow would never appear is an excellent way to abandon fears about death.
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 similarities in the poem deal with similar topics expressed throughout the poem dealing with Keats’ and Longfellow’s fear of death. Differences between the two include the structure and the different images, metaphors and diction that they give off along with their different train of thoughts while writing the two poems. Their thoughts of the subject of death are able to relate to a variety of people because everyone is just human and cannot last forever. Just as these two poems show similar ideas can branch off into many different ideas and interpretations. The desire to continue to
But, we should first and foremost put this sonnet back in its context. We can easily presume that it is autobiographic, thus that Keats reveals us his own worries. In 1818, he is aware that he has short time left to live due to the fatal illness
“My Fear,” by Lawrence Raab is a haunting poem about fear itself and how no one can escape it. In this particular poem, fear becomes an omnipresent physical being that, “follows us,” and has something in its, “black sack of troubles” for everyone. While fear is often considered to be psychological since fear exists solely in our minds when we have nightmares, the poem concludes with the speaker's encounter with “Mr. Fear” before he slept. Thus, it can be inferred that the speaker has had a potentially traumatic experience with fear and proving that fear finds us all no matter what and it does not lie at our feet but towers above us menacingly.
One characteristic embedded in the minds of almost all humans is that of succumbing in pursuit of one’s aspirations, especially with the approach of death. The fear and enigmatic mystery of death at the brink of this shortcoming may cause one who is near death to re-evaluate life as a wasted opportunity or a broken path of dreams because of the inability to find any type of success. The sonnets “Mezzo Cammin” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and “When I have Fears” by John Keats examine the thought processes of two people who submit to the struggles of life in a depressed way. While communicating a very similar foundational message and mood in a different way through diction and structure, the speakers in “Mezzo Cammin” and “When I Have Fears” identify their despair through likewise differing literary elements which complement and bring out the message intended by these troubled individuals.
The similarities between the two poems can be seen in the first line which emphasizes the nature of life and death. Keats’ fear that he “may cease to be” goes alongside with Longfellow’s melancholy remark that “half of [his] life is gone.” The authors then proceed
The poems share commonalities in their beginnings illuminating both Keats and Longfellow’s resent over death. In Keats’s poem, his first line illuminates the whole focus of fear of death when he states, “I may cease to be.” Keats’s quote parallels Longfellow’s first line, “half of my life is gone.” Keats then uses “before” as a metaphorical anaphora to emphasize the idea that he will die before he accomplishes all that he
Keats poem, “When I Have Fears” expresses the writer’s fear of dying before he is able to fulfill his life as a writer. He wants to experience fame, become a writer and find someone to love. The very first line of the poem tells us that he has a fear of dying, because it states, “When I have fears that I may cease to be,” (Keats, Line 1). It is later on in the poem that the readers find out why he fears death.
Both poets have a man wanting to accomplish what they can before death comes making them fear death. The repetition of “before” in Keats’s poem emphasizes that the “man” is afraid of death because he wants to make sure he is able to accomplish his dreams and goals. The repetition of “before” is parallel to “The
John Keats’ poem, When I have fears that I may cease to be, is a well-known work that embodies many Romantic principles. The poem, explored in the context of Keats’ suffering from consumption, laments human impermanence while simultaneously exploring philosophical notions. Keats implements the use of the Shakespearean sonnet with each quatrain, beginning with the ambiguous, but time-bound word ‘when,’ manifesting these ideas in unique ways. When I have fears that I may cease to be uses the structure of the sonnet to delineate between the realms of reality and fantasy, while contributing to the overarching concept of eternity and ultimately reaches the conclusion that even lofty ideas that appear eternal ultimately erode.
Because the poem is long, it won’t be quoted extensively here, but it is attached at the end of the paper for ease of reference. Instead, the paper will analyze the poetic elements in the work, stanza by stanza. First, because the poem is being read on-line, it’s not possible to say for certain that each stanza is a particular number of lines long. Each of several versions looks different on the screen; that is, there is no pattern to the number of lines in each stanza. However, the stanzas are more like paragraphs in a letter than
Keats was very aware of his own mortality and his poetry reflected the intensity and the passion of a man who didn't have very long to live. His poetry remains some of the densest prose ever penned because, like his brief existence, he had to condense so much life into so little space. The thought of impending death would be enough to make anyone fall into hopeless despair but Keats's incredible talents and commitment to live in the moment perhaps allowed him to three lifetimes.