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On Fame by John Keats


The poem "On Fame" by John Keats can hold two different meanings. The first meaning is that fame comes easier when we do not try to acheive it, but instead it comes to us. The other meaning is that fame brings us not only fortune but immortality and other fortunes. Keats knew this best as anyone could. Even though he did not reach it to his full satisfaction during his lifetime, he did obviously reach it after.

"On Fame" is written as two separate sections with one stanza each. Each stanza consists of fourteen lines. Actually, it is written in iambic-pentameter and each sentence is a separate sonnets. The rhyme scheme is ABABCDCDEFEFGG for the first section (Elizabethan) and ABABCDCDEFEGGF for the second.


On Fame


Fame, like a wayward girl, will still be coy
To those who woo her with too slavish knees,
But makes surrender to some thoughtless boy,
And dotes the more upon a heart at ease;
She is a Gipsey,--will not speak to those
Who have not learnt to be content without her;
A Jilt, whose ear was never whisper'd close,
Who thinks they scandal her who talk about her;
A very Gipsey is she, Nilus-born,
Sister-in-law to jealous Potiphar;
Ye love-sick Bards! repay her scorn for scorn;
Ye Artists lovelorn! madmen that ye are!
Make your best bow to her and bid adieu,
Then, if she likes it, she will follow you.


"You cannot eat your cake and have it too." -Proverb

How fevered is the man who cannot look
Upon his mortal days with temperate blood,
Who vexes all the leaves of his life's book,
And robs his fair name of its maidenhood;
It is as if the rose should pluck herself,
Or the ripe plum finger its misty bloom,
As if a Naiad, like a meddling elf,
Should darken her pure grot with muddy gloom;
But the rose leaves herself upon the briar,
For winds to kiss and grateful bees to feed,
And the ripe plum still wears its dim attire;
The undisturbed lake has crystal space;
Why then should man, teasing the world for grace,
Spoil his salvation for a fierce miscreed?

Next: On the Sea
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Literary Movement
Romanticism, 18th Century


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