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Postby Kat » Thu May 06, 2004 2:16 pm

What exactly is John Keats poem "When i Have Fears" really about??? :?
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'When I have fears...' question.

Postby Saturn » Fri May 07, 2004 10:51 pm

As with so many of Keats' poems, this one is primarily concerned with fears of inadequacy and mortality; also with the possibility that he might die without fulfilling his poetic and personal ambitions.

It was written in January 1818, and with this poem he began to abandon the Petrarchian sonnet scheme and employ instead the Shakespearean model. Here is my own simplified interpretation of the poem.

In it he tells us that his imagination is extremely fruitful, and that he fears that he will cease to be before he has unloaded this great fecundity of thought in 'high-piled books'; that he will be like the unripened grain, and wither into uselessness, without bearing the expected crop.

He observes the natural world and his imagination burns to describe in words all he sees. We also sense Keats' view that poetry is to some degree a matter of 'the magic hand of chance', that if poetry did not appear spontaneously, impulsively, it had better not come at all.

The next section sees him turn his thoughts to 'the fair creature of an hour' - according to Woodehouse the same girl he had seen in summer 1814 at Vauxhall gardens who inspired the poem 'Fill for me a brimming bowl' among others. Here he expresses his fear of dying without experiencing the 'faery power' of true love.

In the last two lines Keats once again expresses his doubts about the merits of his work, using the image of the shore to symbolise the ocean of knowledge and truth, much in the same way as (I think) Isaac Newton remarked that he had been merely picking up the shells on the shore of truth.

I hope this gives you a bit of a better understanding of the poem!
"Oh what a misery it is to have an intellect in splints".
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