Critical Summary and Analysis of When I Have Fears a poem by John Keats


John Keats is considered one of the greatest romantic poets. He died at a very young age of 26. He wanted to be a great poet. In this poem the poet expresses his fear that he "may cease to be" before he attains a high status in poetry. He has a "teeming" brain and wants to serve art. He says that he may not live to present the romantic scene of "night's starred face".

The vast Nature is all around with its beauty. He may not live to trace color and beauty of Nature through his pen. The poem also throws light upon the fact that everything of the world is mortal except art. A time does come when "love and fame to nothingness do sink". He conveys the message that art survives the onslaught of time.

The fear of imminent death would make anybody cry for a few more days but what of the great mind which is "teeming" with "high piled" columns of books within his brain and wishes to enlighten the world with it. The youthful poet, Keats, wanted to fly in the air with the elements of nature just to capture all beautiful aspects of nature but his sickness was a barrier.

The poet gives vent to his fear of nearing death which might get hold of him any time. Keats's lively heart wanted to bloom, to draw, to capture and present the beauty of nature from all of its aspects. He fears he may not die without relishing his brain and heart with the abundance of beauty around him.

With the line that "love and fame to nothingness do sink", he expresses his understanding that all with end but beauty will not and art is indeed a thing of beauty and a thing of joy too:

" A thing of beauty is joy forever".


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