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(31 October 1795 – 23 February 1821 / London, England)

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When I Have Fears


When I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has glean'd my teeming brain,
........................
........................
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Comments about this poem (Bards of Passion and of Mirth, written on the Blank Page before Beaumont and Fletcher's Tragi-Comedy 'The Fair Maid of the Inn' by John Keats )

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  • Terry Craddock (2/19/2014 3:01:00 PM)

    The essence of this poem 'When I Have Fears' by John Keats, is his fear that he will die long before he has a chance to write, to quote Keats, 'Before my pen has glean'd my teeming brain'. Keats laments the fact he will die before he has had a chance to study richly in depth, 'Before high-piled books, in charactery, Hold like rich garners the full ripen'd grain'. Keats lacks the time to study 'distinctive qualities', in subjects which are fields of interest for him, and to develop his ideas into fruition on these subjects. Keats will probably have no time for romance for love, which be sadly reflects upon as

    'When I behold, upon the night's starr'd face,
    Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,
    And think that I may never live to trace'

    This depth of feeling, this loss over love not to be known, lived, enjoyed is extended with

    '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,
    Never have relish in the faery power
    Of unreflecting love; '

    It becomes obvious that even more than the pain Keats' feels, over what he will never live to write, is the fear of dying, without the hope of the love that a longer live; should have guaranteed. These thoughts dominate and haunt his mind as 'then on the shore Of the wide world I stand alone, and think'; clearly prove.

    Keats begins this poem with the statement and declaration 'When I have fears that I may cease to be' and expanses the reasons for this fear, finally rounding up his thoughts with the ultimate fear and reason for this fear that he feels, 'Till love and fame to nothingness do sink'. Keats is afraid that he will die and be swiftly forgotten.

    While we who read Keats mourn his short life, we celebrate the richness, quality and quantity of all he achieved in such a short life. For genuine lovers of poetry Keats will never be forgotten.

    4 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Gangadharan Nair Pulingat (2/19/2014 7:18:00 AM)

    The poet's inborn feeling of fear is beautifully carved out in this poem and the powerful words with lot of emotions wonderfully told the sad feeling and words combinations is exceptionally good.

  • Paul Reed (2/19/2014 4:00:00 AM)

    Words in such combinations and written with such perception take your breath away

  • Carlos Echeverria (2/19/2013 10:25:00 AM)

    The love in his heart guides his words to sonnet perfection.

  • Shahzia Batool (2/19/2013 3:13:00 AM)

    @Manonton Dalan...it's right to talk about the living poets, but the literary giants can never be replaced...or ignored! ! !

  • Mostafa Gazi (1/1/2013 1:06:00 PM)

    that is why we love uuu

  • Roisin Murphy (5/23/2012 6:25:00 PM)

    My favourite Keats poem! I love his romantic style of writing. I love his morose themes. I love his use of metaphors. I love his honesty.
    Also, it's so easy to relate to. Everybody is afraid of dying before they've accomplished in life what they set out to. And it's a credit to him to have left such a legacy in such a short life.
    I have yet to come across a poem of his that doesn't leave a mark.
    These two lines are just haunting in my opinion, I could never get them out of my head.
    And think that I may never live to trace
    Their shadows, with the magic hand of chance

  • Amatulla Mohammadi (2/19/2012 12:28:00 PM)

    you are the best keats!

  • Anu Sipps (2/19/2012 9:17:00 AM)

    fear is the greatest weakness of one self so well explained

  • Manonton Dalan (2/19/2012 4:14:00 AM)

    it's all fear. i hear people talk
    about their fear not necessarily
    death but simple like getting late.
    (poem of the day; this poem will
    show again 19feb2913 and so as other
    poems every year, i wish poemhunter
    do something different... like put some
    of the poems of still living poets, maybe
    we have opportunity to know first hand
    from poet. our interpretation could be
    different.)

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