When I Have Fears by John Keats, an iconic English writer, and poet, is phenomenal poem. Keats wrote this poem in 1818 to describe what he will miss if he meets his end soon. The poem begins when the sparker expresses his fears of dying before achieving his goal. Then, to give his readers a clear idea about his fearful life, he tries to explain his worries in each stanza. First, he wishes to turn his thoughts into poetry, but he thinks he may die before giving voice to his poetic thoughts.
While describing his poetic passion, he compares his mind with the farmer’s harvested grains and says he wants to make a pile of books using his poetic thoughts. Moreover, when he looks at the sky full of stars, he fears he may die before using this symbolic beauty in his poetry. Also, he fears that this transient life will never allow him to look upon the beautiful face of his beloved.
Moreover, he may miss the transformational beauty of love. While expressing these fears, he feels lonely on a vast shore. However, at the same time, he realizes that fame and love lose their importance in the face of death. Thus, in Keats’s vision, death snatches the absolute joy of life and makes us stand in the middle of chaos.
Significant Themes in When I Have Fears by John Keats
The poem’s central themes are unavoidable death, worry, and man versus nature. The poem expresses the writer’s on session of death. If we look into his personal life, we know that this obsession is not surprising. Keats has seen his brother’s sufferings, who was hit hard by tuberculosis and eventually died very young. Keats himself suffered from the same disease, and due to poor health, he quit writing at the age of 24.
Therefore, keeping his miserable background in mind, one can understand that his fears about death are not strange. Right from the start, the speaker runs a gamut to worry about his possible end before achieving the desired fame. He catalogs various fears, including losing the fascinating natural world, fear of having the burden of unfulfilled desires, and fear of losing the charm of love.
However, after providing details of his fears, he realizes that death is not a terrible situation. The poem’s final two lines give an overreaching fear of misery; the writer finds himself alone, trying to make sense of his fears and not reaching any conclusion. Thus, no matter if he satisfies his nerves or not, these fears will continue to haunt his life.
Poetic Techniques Used in When I Have Fears by John Keats
The writers use poetic and literary techniques to give indirect meanings. Their appropriate usage allows the readers to understand the intended purposes of the writers. Keats has used various techniques in the poem, such as imagery, symbolism, irony, metaphor, and other rhetorical devices.
The first evident poetic device used in the poem is end rhyme; Keats has used end rhyme to create musical quality in the poem such as; “brain,” “grain,” “think,” “sink.” Another notable literary device is anaphora. Anaphora refers to the repetition of vowel sounds in the same verse, such as the sound of /o/ in “look upon thee more.” Also, he has used consonance in the poem by repeating consonant sounds in the same lines, such as the/w/ sound in “the wide world.”
Moreover, he has used personification in the poem by giving humanistic qualities to the night sky and chance, such as; “night’s starred face” and “magic hand of chance.” Besides these, the poem is effusive with sensual and descriptive images that allow the readers to visualize the writer’s feelings and ideas. The usage of death as an extended metaphor has also added variety to the poem. The whole poem talks about death and how it cast a single shadow on the speaker’s life.
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