Analysis of John Keats' Sonnet: When I Have Fears

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Analysis of "When I Have Fears"

“When I Have Fears” is a sonnet where John Keats expresses three key issues, which he deems important. These are time, love, and poetry. Whereas literal readers may associate this poem with Keats’ obsession with death, a figurative analysis points that the poet is exploring life’s contrasting nature and the consolation of relationships, creativity, and the natural world. Indeed, it is true that the speaker in the poem is worried about the future, and it is indubitable that the concern is spurred by the circumstances of life that the writer happened to experience.

The Imagery of Harvest

The poet applies the imagery of harvest in his first quatrain to emphasize how much he has to express and the fertility of his imagination. Ostensibly, the harvest is a time fulfillment and a culmination of a good outcome. The metaphor in yield contains a paradox. For instance, the writer is both the harvest and the field of grain. In the second stanza, Keats sees abundance in the world, which according to him, can change into poetry (Keats). The "night's starr'd face" in the second quatrain depicts how the writer appreciates the beauty of nature (Keats). The last stanza shows Keats’ diversion from the achievements he mentions in the previous quatrains to love story. The speaker uses the phrase a "fair creature of an hour" to show how short-lived his beloved is, just like love (Keats).

The Worry with Time and the Power of Love

Concisely, Keats’ worry with time is emphasized by the repetition of “when,” which he uses at the start of every stanza and by making the third quatrain shorter. The poet also gives love two attributes; that is, its involvement with emotion instead of thoughts and the ability to change the world for the lovers.

Work Cited

Keats, John. When I have fears that I may cease to be. Virginia Tech, 1816.

November 24, 2023



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Poetry Sonnet

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