John Keats

John Keats was gone too soon. Turned out he was a great poet but imagine what he would have done had he had a longer life.

John Keats (31 October 1795 – 23 February 1821) was an English poet of the second generation of Romantic poets, with Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley, although his poems had been in publication for less than four years when he died of tuberculosis at the age of 25. They were indifferently received in his lifetime, but his fame grew rapidly after his death. By the end of the century, he was placed in the canon of English literature, strongly influencing many writers of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood; the Encyclopædia Britannica of 1888 called one ode “one of the final masterpieces”.

WHEN I HAVE FEARS

Poet: John Keats

Published: 1848 (posthumously)

John Keats was an English Romantic poet who rose to fame after his death and by the end of the nineteenth century became one of the most beloved English poets. His work was in publication only for four years before he died at the age of twenty five. This Shakespearean sonnet has now become one of Keats’ most famous compositions. It was written in 1818 and sent in a letter to John Hamilton Reynolds. Through this sonnet Keats expresses his fear that he wouldn’t be able to realize his potential and achieve love and fame during his short stay on earth. The poem is a personal confession of Keats’ fear of an early death that had plagued him from at least 1816.

When I have fears that I may cease to be

Before my pen has glean’d my teeming brain,

Before high-piled books, in charact’ry,

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.-

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