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BSc BA ADP English Poem When I Have Fears By John Keats Important Questions

English Poem When I Have Fears By John Keats


Questions No 1. Explain the fears of the poet Keats as you find in “When I Have Fears”. Or Analyze the thoughts presented in “When I Have Fears” written by John Keats.

Ans. The poem “When I Have Fears” is a beautiful sonnet by John Keats. It is a Shakespearean sonnet. In this type of sonnet the idea is introduced and presented by the poet in the first 12 lines whereas in the last two lines the idea is concluded in the most subjective manner. The poet expresses and explains the idea that he has a fear that he may die young (an idea which really proved to be true as he died only at 25). If he dies thus, he would not get enough time to put in black and white all the noble and high ideas that he has in his mind. He wishes to enjoy the romance and delight of love. He wishes to interpret different objects of nature. He wishes to write many stories based on the most tender and delicate feelings and emotions of humanity.

Then he realizes that beauty and fame are both short-lived and brief. He wishes to enjoy the relish of love. He wishes to enjoy beauty. But he may die before enjoying all that. Such thoughts make him feel as if he is observing all the world of love and beauty from outside. Eternity is the high-serious object that remains; all others come and go. This sublime idea makes him pacified with his mortality.

The poem is very pathetic and prophetic. Keats really died very young. So the autobiographical touch is also there. It is really very sweet and beautiful poem. It is one of those poems that have made Keats immortal in literature. The words used are appropriate and full of images. The poem is a good blend of thought and style.

Question No 2. What are the poet’s fears?

Ans. The poet expresses his fears in this poem/sonnet. Below we give them in detail.

1. He is afraid that he may die before writing whatever he has in his mind.

2. He is afraid that he may die before large number of books hold his ripe mental philosophy.

3. He is afraid that he may die before he expresses his romantic ideas felt with zeal and fervour.

4. He is afraid that he may die before he enjoy the look of the face of his beloved to the full.

5. He is afraid that he may die before he has full enjoyment in “the faery power/Of Unreflecting love”.

Question No 3. Attempt a critical appreciation of the sonnet.

Ans. This is a very famous sonnet of John Keats in which he speaks of two universal truths: a man cannot write all what is in his mind before he dies, (he is speaking in the context of poetry and literature), and love and fame are short-lived and mortal things. Two of Keats’s famous themes are touched upon here in this masterpiece sonnet: transient nature of beauty and the unrequited love. He goes on to present his thoughts and ideas about these very sincerely.

The subject is related with man’s general destiny and life. Man is mortal and he dies before he can fully realize his capabilities in this mortal world. The poet presents the theme in a very sublime way. He is afraid that he may die before he has written all what he has in his ripe mind and before he has expressed in poetry all the romantic tales and ideas he wishes to express. He is sorry to realize that fame and love both are transitory and mortal things and that his love for his beloved will never be fully realized.

Death has been a subject discussed by many poets in their own way. Keats has presented it in many of his poems, such as Ode to a Nightingale and Ode on a Grecian Urn. Here he presents it in another way. Death cuts short the life before a man is able to realize his capabilities fully. He has expressed his ideas very sincerely. The imagery is romantic. Such lines are noteworthy:

“Night’s starr’d face”,

“Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance”,

and “Magic hand of chance”,

Imagery of the poem is soft and tender. Words have been used quite with an ingenuous hand. The theme is straightforward expressed. Most of the words have been used evocatively.

It is a sonnet and a Shakespearean sonnet, i.e., having three stanzas and a couplet (the line distribution is 1 2 + 2). The subject has been introduced in the first 12 lines and it has been closed in the last 2 lines. Three stanzas are rhymed a b a b with a couplet at the end. The meter is the most popular English one, i.e., iambic pentameter. Lines are mostly end-stopped. Here and there we find a run-on line (with enjambment) as 3-4, 7-8, and 11-12-13. The rhythm is well-suited to the subject matter. Here and there we find a little alliteration, such as “feel, fair” in line no. 9 and “wide world” in line no. 13. An “n” lingers on in the last half of line 14: “nothingness do sink.”

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