About the Poem “When I Have Fears That I May Cease to Be“
|Poem Title||When I Have Fears That I May Cease to Be|
|Author||John Keats (1795-1821)|
|Year published||1848 (posthumously)|
|Form||Elizabethan sonnet (14 lines in iambic pentameter|
|Rhyme scheme||ABAB CDCD EFEF GG|
|Setting||The speaker’s mind|
|Tone||The tone is contemplative, melancholic, and reflective. Keats expresses his inner fears and anxieties with a sense of resignation.|
|Imagery||The poem features rich and vivid imagery, including references to stars, the night sky, and the realms of death.|
|Key Motifs||– Stars and the night sky, which represent eternity and the infinite.|
– The creative process and the pursuit of artistic achievement.
Themes of When I Have Fears That I May Cease to Be
Themes of “When I Have Fears That I May Cease to Be” by John Keats are:
- Death and the fear of death ➤ The speaker contemplates his own mortality and the things he will miss out on if he dies young.
- Unfulfilled potential ➤ The speaker worries about dying before he has achieved his full potential as a poet and as a person.
- The beauty of the natural world ➤ The speaker expresses his love for the natural world and his fear of never seeing it again.
- Love ➤ The speaker desires love and companionship, but he fears that he will never find them.
- Fame ➤ The speaker also desires fame and recognition for his work, but he realizes that these things are ultimately meaningless in the face of death.
“When I Have Fears That I May Cease to Be” Poem by John Keats
When I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has gleaned my teeming brain,
Before high-pilèd books, in charactery,
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 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 Summary & Analysis
“When I Have Fears That I May Cease to Be” by John Keats is a heartfelt poem that expresses the poet’s fears and desires in 4 stanzas.
The speaker begins the poem by confessing his fear of death. He imagines dying before he has had the chance to achieve all of his goals and dreams. He uses the metaphor of a farmer harvesting grain to compare his own life to a field of crops. Just as a farmer would be devastated to see his crops die before they could be harvested, the speaker is afraid of dying before he can fully realize his potential.
The speaker then elaborates on his fear about dying young. He is concerned that he will miss out on all of the things that make life worthwhile, such as the beauty of nature, the love of another person, and the chance to make a difference in the world. He uses the image of a starry night sky to represent the vastness and mystery of the universe. In the face of such vastness, he feels small and insignificant, and he fears dying without having had the opportunity to experience everything that life has to offer.
In the third stanza, the speaker turns his attention to his love for a woman. He is afraid of dying before telling her how he feels and experiencing the joy of being loved by her. He imagines a “faery power of unreflecting love” to represent the kind of passionate and spontaneous love he seeks. He is aware that this type of love is rare and valuable, and he fears that he will never experience it in his lifetime.
In the final stanza, the speaker comes to a realization about his fear of death. He understands that death is a natural part of life and that it is critical to cherish the time we have. In the face of death, he also realizes that love and fame are ultimately meaningless. Even if he does not achieve all of his goals and dreams, the speaker finds solace in the thought that he can still live a happy and fulfilling life.
FAQs from When I Have Fears That I May Cease to Be
What is the meaning of the poem when I have fears that I may cease to be?
The poem is about the fear of death and the longing for a full and meaningful life.
Why did John Keats write when I have fears that I may cease to be?
John Keats wrote the poem to express his worries about not having enough time to fulfill his artistic dreams and find love before he dies.
What is the conclusion of the poem?
The conclusion of the poem “When I Have Fears That I May Cease to Be” is that death is a natural part of life and that it is important to cherish the time that we have.