When I Have Fears Poem by John Keats

When I Have Fears

Rating: 3.7


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.

COMMENTS OF THE POEM
Roisin Murphy 23 May 2012

My favourite Keats poem! I love his romantic style of writing. I love his morose themes. I love his use of metaphors. I love his honesty. Also, it's so easy to relate to. Everybody is afraid of dying before they've accomplished in life what they set out to. And it's a credit to him to have left such a legacy in such a short life. I have yet to come across a poem of his that doesn't leave a mark. These two lines are just haunting in my opinion, I could never get them out of my head. And think that I may never live to trace Their shadows, with the magic hand of chance

45 38 Reply
Terry Craddock 19 February 2014

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.

55 18 Reply
Manonton Dalan 19 February 2012

it's all fear. i hear people talk about their fear not necessarily death but simple like getting late. (poem of the day; this poem will show again 19feb2913 and so as other poems every year, i wish poemhunter do something different... like put some of the poems of still living poets, maybe we have opportunity to know first hand from poet. our interpretation could be different.)

28 40 Reply
Anu Sipps 19 February 2012

fear is the greatest weakness of one self so well explained

30 38 Reply
Mostafa Gazi 01 January 2013

that is why we love uuu

27 39 Reply
Rahfa 24 March 2019

Nice One..keep writng..All the best

3 3 Reply
Altamash Hasan 16 March 2019

Masha allah bahot khub

3 1 Reply
Prabir Gayen 16 December 2018

I am afraid of death too..for the fear of losing.....

2 0 Reply
Karjoomi 22 October 2018

Beautiful piece of work i read ery dae

4 1 Reply
Tanjil 16 October 2018

Nice to have expectations.

4 0 Reply
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John Keats

John Keats

London, England
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