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John Keats’ When I Have Fears That I May Cease to Be

John Keats’ When I Have Fears That I May Cease to Be

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John Keats’ When I Have Fears That I May Cease to Be

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  1. John Keats’ When I Have Fears That I May Cease to Be By: Jack Mitchell

  2. Biography • Born October 31, 1795 in Finsbury Pavement, outside of London • Oldest of four surviving children (a brother of his dies in infancy) • Father dies in horse accident when he is 8 • Mother dies of tuberculosis when he is 14 • Pursues career in medicine, gives up in 1814 to pursue writing (Downing) • Became friends with other writers, notably Percy Shelley

  3. “When I Have Fears That I May Cease to Be” • Written in 1818, three years before Keats’ death • Published posthumously in 1848

  4. “When I Have Fears…” • Sonnet (English) • Formal, lyric poem • 3 quatrains, 1 couplet • Iambic pentameter

  5. A BAB Q 1 Q 2 Q 3 When I have fears that I may cease to be Before my pen has gleaned my teeming brain, Before high piled books, in charac’try, Hold like rich garners the full ripened grain; When I behold, upon the starred night’s 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 relish in thy fairy 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 CDCD EFEF GG Couplet

  6. “When I Have Fears…” • Uses anaphora in each quatrain by beginning with “When,” “When,” “And when” to introduce a new series of thought that is focused in same direction

  7. Q 1 Q 2 Q 3 When I have fears that I may cease to be Before my pen has gleaned my teeming brain, Before high piled books, in charac’try, Hold like rich garners the full ripened grain; When I behold, upon the starred night’s 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 relish in thy fairy 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 Couplet

  8. “When I Have Fears…” • Uses end-stopped lines more than enjambment • Creates a pause at the end of almost every line in order to consolidate thoughts

  9. When I have fears that I may cease to be Before my pen has gleaned my teeming brain, Before high piled books, in charac’try, Hold like rich garners the full ripened grain; When I behold, upon the starred night’s 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 relish in thy fairy 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.

  10. “When I Have Fears…” • Uses a similie in line 4 • Compares knowledge to crops • Aspects of nature

  11. When I have fears that I may cease to be Before my pen has gleaned my teeming brain, Before high piled books, in charac’try, Hold like rich garners the full ripened grain; When I behold, upon the starred night’s 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 relish in thy fairy 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

  12. “When I Have Fears…” • Uses imagery of nature • One of the main aspects of Romantic period

  13. When I have fears that I may cease to be Before my pen has gleaned my teeming brain, Before high piled books, in charac’try, Hold like rich garners the full ripened grain; When I behold, upon the night’s starred 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 relish in thy fairy 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. “When I Have Fears…” • Uses a caesura to signify the volta • At this point the direction of the poem changes and takes new direction • The question, “What does Keats do when he gets scared of death?” raised from the first line, is answered here

  15. When I have fears that I may cease to be Before my pen has gleaned my teeming brain, Before high piled books, in charac’try, Hold like rich garners the full ripened grain; When I behold, upon the starred night’s 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 relish in thy fairy 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 Caesura Volta

  16. Explication When I get scared about dying Before I can write down all of my thoughts Before I can write books filled with language That contain my matured knowledge When I have fears that I may cease to be Before my pen has gleaned my teeming brain, Before high piled books, in charac’try, Hold like rich garners the full ripened grain; When I behold, upon the night’s starred 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 relish in thy fairy 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

  17. Explication When I have fears that I may cease to be Before my pen has gleaned my teeming brain, Before high piled books, in charac’try, Hold like rich garners the full ripened grain; When I behold, upon the night’s starred 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 relish in thy fairy 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 look at the night sky And all the clouds and stars And think that I will not live to see all Of the things one might see in the sky

  18. Explication When I have fears that I may cease to be Before my pen has gleaned my teeming brain, Before high piled books, in charac’try, Hold like rich garners the full ripened grain; When I behold, upon the night’s starred 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 relish in thy fairy 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 And when I think, beautiful woman That I will never see you again Never take joy in your womanly power Of undying love

  19. Explication When I have fears that I may cease to be Before my pen has gleaned my teeming brain, Before high piled books, in charac’try, Hold like rich garners the full ripened grain; When I behold, upon the night’s starred 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 relish in thy fairy 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 Then I will be alone in this world and think Until romanticism dies

  20. What does it mean? • At this point in his life, Keats is almost sure he will die young • He has been surrounded by death and has recently lived with and cared for his younger brother, Tom, while he was dying of tuberculosis; the disease John also died from

  21. What does it mean? • Despite all this, Keats still uses Romanticism in his writing • However, in “When I Have Fears” he denounces romantic ideas in the last line: “Til love and fame to nothingness do sink” • Looking back on his life, he realizes that romantic ideas have done nothing for him and he will die anyway

  22. Works Cited • Downing, Renee. "John Keats." http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/6 6. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 April 2011. http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/ 66 • Keats, John. "When I Have Fears That I May Cease to be." http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/173 753. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 April 2011. <http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/17 3753>.