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When I Have Fears That I May Cease to Be

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Claire Merrick

on 6 May 2013

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Transcript of When I Have Fears That I May Cease to Be


When I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has glean'd my teeming brain,
Before high pil`d books, in charact'ry,
Hold like rich garners the full-ripen'd grain;
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
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;—then on the shore
Of the wide world I stand alone, and think,
Till Love and Fame to nothingness do sink. "When I Have Fears That I May Cease to Be" John Keats John Keats October 31, 1795 – February 23, 1821 George Keats, John's brother, wrote that John "feared that he should never be a poet, & if he was not he would destroy himself." The Romantic Era Romantic Elements What's going on in England at the time Analysis Over a short period of time, Keats lost most of his family members- his father from a terrible fall and his mother and two brothers from tuberculosis. In 1820, Keats was formally diagnosed with tuberculosis and died almost five months later. While Keats was in Hastings, England, he had an intimate relationship with a young, beautiful woman, Fanny. They never married due to his lack of funds with such he would not be able to provide for her. Months later, Keats's illness drew him away from Fanny. Though they wrote to each other, they never saw one another again. Because of this, Keats sank into a depression. The Peterloo Massacre: Mounted soldiers charged and killed numerous cotton workers The Romantic Movement was partly a revolt against classicism and the enlightenment.

Romantics rejected the classical emphasis on order and rationality.

Emotionally it expressed an extreme assertion of the self and the value of individual experience, together with the sense of the infinite and transcendental. Enlightenment Vs. Romanticism 5+7= (cc) image by anemoneprojectors on Flickr Classicism & Rationalism Romanticism Sources of Inspiration Scientific observation of the outer world; logic Examination of inner feelings, emotions; imagination Attitudes and Interests Pragmatic; science, technology; universal experiences; following standards and traditions; optimistic about the present; emphasized moderation and self-restraint Idealistic; interested in the mysterious and supernatural; concerned with the particular; sought to develop new forms of expressions; romanticized the past; tended towards excess and spontaneity; appreciated folk traditions Social Concerns Valued stability and harmony; favored social hierarchy; maintaining aristocracy; concerned with society as a whole; believed nature should be controlled by humans Desired radical change; favored democracy; concerned with common people and the individual; felt that nature should be untamed Luddite Riots: Protests against the loss of jobs to new machinery The Reform Bill of 1832: Extended the voting rights of middle class white men In 1833 parliament passed the first law governing factory safety and abolished slavery within the same year The entirety of the poem displays an interest in Death, particularly dying before the having a chance to realize the wonders of life. The mentions of "rich garners" and "grain" are a very direct references to Nature. "[T]he night's stard'd face" and "[h]uge cloudy symbols of a high romance" describe the power of nature to inspire thought There are signs of interest in the Supernatural, evident by the use of "magic hand of chance" and "faery power" Though confident in his writing ability, Keats was convinced his work would be easily erased in time. While seriously ill and aware of his impending fate, he wrote the inscription for his headstone "Here lies one whose name was writ in water" John Keats feared that he would meet death before he had lived to see the oportunity to read the extensive library of great literature, none the less acquire a status near its authors.
Looking up to the beauty of the stars in the night sky, he realized he may never get the chance to take the time to admire the skies again.
And when thinking that he may never again have the oportunity to look upon his love with unadulterated adornation, he considers that death may be welcomed if his love is not returned nor his ability recognized. Kayla Menendez
Molly Milholland
& Melanie Rimel Snaps for: What do you fear? Discussion Questions What three things does Keats fear? 1. Death: "when I have fears that I will cease to be" 2. He fears that he will not fulfill himself as a writer:
"Before my pen has glean'd my teeming brain,
Before high-piled books, in charact'ry," 3. and that he will lose his beloved:
"That I shall never look upon thee more,
Never have relish in the faery power
Of unreflecting love " What is the structure of the poem? This poem has the classical pattern in rhyme: A, B, A, B... in the 3 quatrains, until the couplet which rhymes A, A. In groups you are going to analyse the imagery and figures of speech in the poem. The first quatrain The second quatrain The third quatrain The couplet The first quatrain When I have fears that I may cease to be

Before my pen has glean’d my teeming brain,

Before high-pilèd books, in charactery,

Hold like rich garners the full ripen’d grain; In the first quatrain, the speaker describes his fear of dying before being able to glean his "teeming brain" of all the poetry within it. What image is prevalent in the underlined words? When I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has glean’d my teeming brain,
Before high-pilèd books, in charactery,
Hold like rich garners the full ripen’d grain; Find examples of alliteration and repetition. The harvest metaphor contains a paradox (paradox is a characteristic of Keats's poetry and thought): Keats is both the field of grain (his imagination is like the grain to be harvested) and he is the harvester (writer of poetry). Which words emphasise the ABUNDANCE of the harvest image? The second quatrain 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
Their shadows with the magic hand of chance; What is he sad that he will not be able to do? What figure of speech is this? Personification The third quatrain The speaker looks up at the sky’s mighty constellations, and he fears that he will “cease to be” before even tracing their shadows. The artist’s job, of course, is to trace or represent in his or her respective medium—for that is the definition of art. Keats fears not achieving artistic success and fame. However, the use of the word romance can also be taken in the more cultural sense relating to romantic relationships—a vital component of Keats’s fears 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—then on the shore Why do you think there is an emphasis on time here? As the "fair creature of an hour," – line 9 - his beloved is short-lived just as, by implication, love is. The quatrain itself parallels the idea of little time, in being only three and a half lines, rather than the usual four lines of a Shakespearean sonnet; the effect in reading is of a slight speeding-up of time. Keats attributes two qualities to love:
(1) it has the ability to transform the world for the lovers ("faery power"), and
(2) love involves us with emotion rather than thought ("I feel" and "unreflecting love"). 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. 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. What do you think 'the shore' may represent? Complete the questions from your books on page 239
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