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"When I have fears that I may cease to be" By John Keats

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by

Jon Tetlie

on 21 April 2010

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Transcript of "When I have fears that I may cease to be" By John Keats

"When I have fears that I may cease to be" By John Keats (The Poem)
WHEN I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has glean'd my teeming brain,
Before high piled 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 feel 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.
(Themes)
John Keats uses various contrasting themes in his poem to convey his internal worry and insecurity. By incorporationg dark imagery that pertains to his own mortality, Keats plays on the sadness and solitude he sees in death. He includes "the nights starred face," the "huge cloud[s]," and the "shadows" which grip his thoughts in order to explore his dark feelings and then contrast them with his love for his "fair creature of an hour." (structure)
John Keats' poem "When I have fears that I may cease to be" is in the form of a sonnet. Several requirements for a sonnet are maintaining a box shape, being in Iambic pentameter, having a shift of tone, and posessing a rhyme scheme which alternates every other line with an exception for the last two lines. By expressing his messege through a sonnet, Keats is able to effectively utilize a shift in tone (+/- in line 7) which in turn sets up the contrast between Love, and the absence of it. 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 feel 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. 14 Lines Rhyme scheme Box shaped (Major themes) The Limits of Humanity The Power of the Written Word Expression as an Indicator of Self-worth Thought versus Action "when I fear I may cease to be" the pen and the brain high piled books
Height
"starr'd face of the night"
"cloudy symbols of a high romance"
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