A summary on the life of poet John Keats and analysis of one of his poems.

Death; what is death? Is it the end, or the beginning? Will it end our hopes and dreams, or let emerge a bequest to shadow on the future? The most feared experience in all of human history, death, was brought early to a young poet by the name of John Keats. Forebodingly inspired, Keats wrote one his most venerated poems titled “When I Have Fears That I May Cease to Be.”

            Even after his own death, Keats is still revered as one of the most imperative poets of his time. According to Poetry for Students, “Keats is generally recognized to be one of the most important figures of the British Romantic movement, along with Shelly and Byron, and the men credited with bring the movement to life, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth” (“When I have Fears” 295). Even tough he lived a scarce twenty five years, Lilia Melani puts out that his achievement in the literary world of poetry is particularly amazing (“Introduction”). He did not achieve fame in his lifetime, but once his writings and letters were discovered, his extraordinary talent was shown and read by many (Kissane).

            “When I Have Fears That I May Cease to Be” seems more personal than Keats’s odes and letters. Where did his inspiration come from? What was his motive to writing “Fears”? In order to understand and delve deeper into Keats thinking, one must uncover his background and situation.

            The poem itself is divided into four different parts, known as quatrains, each one, except for the last quatrain, containing 4 lines each. In the first quatrain, the speaker of the poem requests that his knowledge in his “teeming brain” (line 2) to be recorded into books; like a grainer would harvest and store his wheat. He or she then explains that they may never know where the night clouds will lead to of a “high romance” and that their life is now left to the “hand of chance” (6-8). The speaker will never lay his eyes upon any “fair creature and will cease to “relish in the faery [SIC] power of unreflecting love”(11-12). He stands in solitude, overlooking the vast earth, knowing “Till Love and Fame to Nothingness do sink” (14).

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