When I Have Fears

When I Have Fears That I May Cease To Be: A wonderful reflective poem by John Keats. John Keats is considered one of the greatest romantic poets. He died at a very young age of 26. He wanted to be a great poet. In this poem the poet expresses his fear that he “may cease to be” before he attains a high status in poetry. He has a “teeming” brain and wants to serve art. He says that he may not live to present the romantic scene of “night’s starred face”.

The vast Nature is all around with its beauty. He may not live to trace colour and beauty of Nature through his pen. The poem also throws light upon the fact that everything of the world is mortal except art. A time does come when “love and fame to nothingness do sink”. He conveys the message that art survives the onslaught of time.

The fear of imminent death would make anybody cry for a few more days but what of the great mind which is “teeming” with “high piled” columns of books within his brain and wishes to enlighten the world with it. The youthful poet, Keats, wanted to fly in the air with the elements of nature just to capture all beautiful aspects of nature but his sickness was a barrier.

The poet gives vent to his fear of nearing death which might get hold of him any time. Keats’s lively heart wanted to bloom, to draw, to capture and present the beauty of nature from all of its aspects. He fears he may not die without relishing his brain and heart with the abundance of beauty around him.

With the line that “love and fame to nothingness do sink”, he expresses his understanding that all with end but beauty will not and art is indeed a thing of beauty and a thing of joy too:

” A thing of beauty is joy forever”.

Other Poems Related to Themes of Death:

  1. Lights Out
  2. After Apple Picking

Text of the Poem 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-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 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.

Further Reading to the poem “When I Have Fears That I May Cease To Be”:

  1. Poetry
  2. John Keats as a Romantic Poet
  3. Negative Capability of John Keats
  4. BA English Notes
  5. BA English Syllabus
  6. When I have Fears
  7. Leisure Full Text.
  8. Tartary
  9. New Year Resolutions
  10. Woman Work
  11. Rebel
  12. The Huntsman
  13. All the Worlds a Stage
  14. Solitary Reaper – Summary
  15. Solitary Reaper Text
  16. One Art
  17. Departure and Arrival – Summary
  18. Departure and Arrival – Text
  19. After Apple Picking – Summary
  20. After Apple Picking – Themes
  21. After Apple Picking – Text
  22. Lights Out
  23. Because I Could not Stop for Death
  24. Hawks Monologue
  25. When I have Fears
  26. Kubla Khan

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