John Keats

(31 October 1795 – 23 February 1821 / London, England)

When I Have Fears - Poem by John Keats

When I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has glean'd my teeming brain,
Before high-piled books, in charactery,
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.

Form: Sonnet


Comments about When I Have Fears by John Keats

  • Robert Murray Smith (4/16/2017 1:24:00 AM)


    Enjoyed this perfect sonnet. (Report) Reply

    0 person liked.
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  • Sylva-onyema Uba (2/14/2017 10:30:00 AM)


    Till love and fame...

    Thanks for sharing.

    Sylva
    (Report) Reply

  • Loppo Louie (1/26/2017 11:13:00 AM)


    No fear no such thing.
    We all have to deal with our shortfalls in our lives.
    So live to learn & learn to live...
    (Report) Reply

  • Seamus O' Brian (1/16/2017 1:07:00 PM)


    We must all face the fact of our own mortality. What will we leave behind? What will we leave undone? Reflections elegantly crafted in fine poetry. (Report) Reply

  • Tom Allport (1/7/2017 5:38:00 AM)

    tom allport
    we are but what we write this poet shines bright? brightest? (Report) Reply

  • Dr.subhendu Kar (3/6/2016 1:55:00 PM)


    yet mind blowing write to read and learn very art of poetry! (Report) Reply

  • Kenneth Maswabi (1/25/2016 3:49:00 AM)


    i enjoyed reading this beautiful piece. Thank you. (Report) Reply

  • Vishal Sharma (10/27/2015 9:43:00 AM)


    A deep and meaningful poetry with a lot of things to learn from (Report) Reply

  • Melvina Germain (8/14/2015 1:12:00 AM)


    Food for thought, makes one stop and delve into the nitty gritty..... (Report) Reply

  • Naida Nepascua Supnet (6/2/2015 10:38:00 PM)


    Keats will always let his readers ponder on verses he wrote.
    And we will always find the essence of his poems and use them in our lives.
    (Report) Reply

  • (3/28/2015 12:37:00 PM)


    a beautiful perfection awaits in all of John Keats work (Report) Reply

  • Godfrey Morris (3/9/2015 8:38:00 PM)


    Poetry for the mind. Great write. (Report) Reply

  • (6/22/2014 2:15:00 AM)


    Of the wide world world I stand alone and think......It is nice to read. The great poet's great poem and it is wonderful beyond words of appreciation.It has no barriers of country, It has no barriers of belief, It has the unity of mind the universal I think. (Report) Reply

  • (6/18/2014 11:57:00 AM)


    ~ Of the wide world I stand alone, and think
    Till love and fame to nothingness do sink.~
    ...........in the end to nothingness we sink
    .........not love or riches will be of any consequence
    ........the only thing which will remain is our legacy
    (Report) Reply

  • Terry Craddock (2/19/2014 3:01:00 PM)


    The essence of this poem 'When I Have Fears' by John Keats, is his fear that he will die long before he has a chance to write, to quote Keats, 'Before my pen has glean'd my teeming brain'. Keats laments the fact he will die before he has had a chance to study richly in depth, 'Before high-piled books, in charactery, Hold like rich garners the full ripen'd grain'. Keats lacks the time to study 'distinctive qualities', in subjects which are fields of interest for him, and to develop his ideas into fruition on these subjects. Keats will probably have no time for romance for love, which be sadly reflects upon as

    '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'

    This depth of feeling, this loss over love not to be known, lived, enjoyed is extended with

    '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; '

    It becomes obvious that even more than the pain Keats' feels, over what he will never live to write, is the fear of dying, without the hope of the love that a longer live; should have guaranteed. These thoughts dominate and haunt his mind as 'then on the shore Of the wide world I stand alone, and think'; clearly prove.

    Keats begins this poem with the statement and declaration 'When I have fears that I may cease to be' and expanses the reasons for this fear, finally rounding up his thoughts with the ultimate fear and reason for this fear that he feels, 'Till love and fame to nothingness do sink'. Keats is afraid that he will die and be swiftly forgotten.

    While we who read Keats mourn his short life, we celebrate the richness, quality and quantity of all he achieved in such a short life. For genuine lovers of poetry Keats will never be forgotten.
    (Report) Reply

  • (2/19/2014 7:18:00 AM)


    The poet's inborn feeling of fear is beautifully carved out in this poem and the powerful words with lot of emotions wonderfully told the sad feeling and words combinations is exceptionally good. (Report) Reply

  • Paul Reed (2/19/2014 4:00:00 AM)


    Words in such combinations and written with such perception take your breath away (Report) Reply

  • (2/19/2013 10:25:00 AM)


    The love in his heart guides his words to sonnet perfection. (Report) Reply

  • Shahzia Batool (2/19/2013 3:13:00 AM)


    @Manonton Dalan...it's right to talk about the living poets, but the literary giants can never be replaced...or ignored! ! ! (Report) Reply

  • Mostafa Gazi (1/1/2013 1:06:00 PM)


    that is why we love uuu (Report) Reply

Read all 41 comments »

# 86 poem on top 500 Poems

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Read poems about / on: romance, magic, power, alone, world, night, love, fear



Poem Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Poem Edited: Thursday, October 6, 2016


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