Presentation on theme: "WHEN I HAVE FEARS THAT I MAY CEASE TO BE JOHN KEATS (1795-1821)"— Presentation transcript:
WHEN I HAVE FEARS THAT I MAY CEASE TO BE JOHN KEATS (1795-1821)
MORE ABOUT THE POET John Keats was born on 31 October 1795. John was born in central London. In the summer of 1803, unable to attend Eton or Harrow because of expense, he was sent to board at John Clarke's school, close to his grandparents' house. The headmaster's son, Charles Cowden Clarke, was to become an important influence, mentor and friend, and introduced Keats to a great deal of Renaissance literature. In April 1804, only nine months after Keats had started at Enfield, his father died when he fractured his skull after falling from his horse on a return visit to the school. Frances remarried two months afterwards, but left her new husband soon after and, with her four children, went to live with the children's grandmother, Alice Jennings.
In March 1810, when Keats was 14, his mother died of TB leaving the children in the custody of their grandmother. Jennings appointed two guardians to take care of the children. That autumn, Keats was removed from Clarke's school to apprentice with Thomas Hammond — a surgeon and apothecary. Until 1813 he lodged with Hammond and slept in the attic above the surgery. In 1815, Keats registered as a medical student.
Within a month of starting, he was accepted for a dressership position within the hospital — a significant promotion with increased responsibility and workload, taking up precious writing time and increasing his ambivalence to working in medicine. Strongly drawn by an ambition inspired by fellow poets but beleaguered by family financial crises that continued to the end of his life, he suffered periods of deep depression. His brother George wrote that John "feared that he should never be a poet, & if he was not he would destroy himself".
In 1816, Keats received his apothecary's licence but before the end of the year he announced to his guardian that he had resolved to be a poet, not a surgeon. In bad health and unhappy with living in London, in April 1817 Keats moved with his brothers into rooms at 1 Well Walk. Both John and George nursed their brother Tom, who was suffering from tuberculosis.
In July, while on a walking tour, Keats caught a bad cold and "was too thin and fevered to proceed on the journey". On his return south, Keats continued to nurse Tom, exposing himself to the highly infectious disease. His brother, Tom Keats died on 1 December 1818. Keats went to Italy to recover, but he died in Rome a few months later in 1821 at the age of 26.
WHEN I HAVE FEARS THAT I MAY CEASE TO BE When I have fears that I may cease to be1 Before my pen has glean’d my teeming brain,2 Before high-piled books, in charactery,3 Hold like rich garners the full ripened grain;4 When I behold, upon the night’s starr’d face,5 Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,6 And think that I may never live to trace7 Their shadows, with the magic hand of chance;8 And when I feel, fair creature of an hour,9 That I shall never look upon thee more,10 Never have relish in the fairy power11 Of unreflecting love; - then on the shore12 Of the wide world I stand alone, and think13 Till love and fame to nothingness do sink. 14
Form/Structure : Shakespearian Sonnet – 3 Quatrains and a Rhyming Couplet Abab cdcd efef gg
When I have fears that I may cease to be1 Before my pen has glean’d my teeming brain,2 Before high-piled books, in charactery,3 Hold like rich garners the full ripened grain;4
Lines 1-4: The poet is afraid that he may die (cease to be) before he has turned into literature the abundance of thoughts and ideas in his mind, before he has completed a high pile of books in writing that contain all his rich ideas and thoughts, just like a granary filled with ripe grain.
When I behold, upon the night’s starr’d face,5 Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,6 And think that I may never live to trace7 Their shadows, with the magic hand of chance;8
Lines 5-8: When he looks at the romantic figures formed in the night sky, he fears that he may not live long enough to include his ideas about them in his writing.
And when I feel, fair creature of an hour,9 That I shall never look upon thee more, 10 Never have relish in the fairy power 11 Of unreflecting love; - then on the shore 12
Lines 9-12: He fears that he will never again see the beautiful woman, whom he has known for only an hour, to enjoy the fairy-like, spontaneous love that may grow from the relationship.
Of the wide world I stand alone, and think 13 Till love and fame to nothingness do sink. 14
Lines 13-14: When the poet has these fears, he feels like standing alone on the brink of death, and he thinks how insignificant love and fame will be in the wide expanse of God’s creation.
glean’d (line 2): harvested, gathered teeming (line 2): alive, bursting with ideas and thoughts charactery (line 3): letters, word and symbols used by the poet when writing garners (line 4): store-houses for corn behold (line 50: see starr’d (line5): stars covering the sky trace (line 7): pursue, trail fair creature (line 9): referring to the woman he has fallen in love with have relish in (line 11): enjoy faery (line 11): fairy-like unreflecting (line 12): sincere, spontaneous
THEME/INTERPRETATION OF THE POEM John Keats wrote this sonnet in 1818, three years before his death in 1821. When reading this poem, one realises that Keats must have had a foreboding that he might die soon and be unable to fulfil his ideals. He still had many ideas and thoughts about literary works that he wanted to write before he died. Still being a young man (23 when he wrote this poem), he feared that he also would not have the opportunity to develop a romantic love relationship with a woman. The poem is directly linked to Keat’s personal life experience, and the fears expressed in the poem. The couplet sums up his final thought about his fears: When he dies, his love relationship and the fame he may achieve through his writing will become totally insignificant in God’s creation.
FIGURES OF SPEECH Euphemism: ‘that I may cease to be” (line 1 ): euphemism for death Personification: “Before my pen has glean’d my teeming brain” – comparing his pen to gleaners who have cleaned the corn fields of corn. He wants his pen to write down all the ideas he has before he dies. “the night’s starr’d face” – the stars covering the night sky “with the magic hand of chance” – He may not have the opportunity of inspiration to write about the romantic images and symbols he sees Metaphor: “then on the shore/of the wide world I stand alone” – he has come to the end of his life and is standing on the brink of death “Till love and fame to nothingness do sink” – Love and fame will disappear and become insignificant after death like a ship sinking into the depths of the sea and is lost forever. Simile: “Before high-piled books.../Hold like rich garners the full ripened grain” – the books he would write would contain all his precious, matured ideas and thoughts, just like a full granary contains the fully ripened corn. It also signifies that the poet’s ideas will take time to develop into something substantial.