“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.
—When I have fears by John Keats.
📚 When it comes to rhyme, Keats wrote this sonnet in Shakespearean style i.e. abab cdcd efef gg. The way of writing is inspired by Elizabethan poets and Wordsworth. The words by his own fears.
📚 In this one he expresses his fears of not managing to write all the poems he wants to write before he dies, but also the fear that he may not be given the chance to experience passionate love. He longed to be famous as a poet but was constantly haunted by the fear of death. It is said that the fact that his parents died young might have triggered this fear. Either that or his suffering soul knew what was coming, even when it comes to love.
📚 In 1814 Keats saw a beautiful woman in Vauxhall Gardens and could not forget her. That same year he wrote “Fill for Me a Brimming Bowl” and in 1818 he wrote “To a Lady Seen for a Few Moments at Vauxhall” and also wrote the above poem, all referring to this lady… More about Keats on my IG account during July.