When I Have Fears That I May Cease To Be by John Keats
This Elizabethan sonnet written by Keats is a 14-line poem written in iambic pentameter containing three quatrains and a couplet. It is about his fear of death. However, unlike his other writings he writes about his fear of death not because of what comes after, but because of his failure to achieve love and fame.
Since "When I Have Fears That I May Cease To Be" is an Elizabethan sonnet (also called a Shakespearean sonnet), it contains fourteen lines made up of three quatrains and a couplet. It rhymes as abab-cdcd-efef-gg.
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 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. Written in 1818. Published in 1848.
Next: Where Be Ye Going, You Devon Maid?
Find out more information about this poem and read others like it.
Romanticism, 18th Century
Sonnet, Death, Love