Need your help on "when i have fears..."

Discussion on the works of John Keats.

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Need your help on "when i have fears..."

Postby ifif1026 » Thu Dec 09, 2004 9:38 am

:oops: i'm a student from Taiwan and need some help.

in "when i have fears that i may cease to be"
1. does "cease to be" mean "die"?
2. why speaker has fears before "high piled books"?
3. what is the "magic hand of chance"?
4. what is "fair creature of an hour"?

I've started to learn poems for a very short time and hope you can give me some help, thanks :o
ifif1026
 
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Postby Saturn » Thu Dec 09, 2004 11:12 am

I posted this before, a good while ago, but I hope it answers some of your questions.

Remember though, it's only a personal interpretation of the poem.

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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Postby ifif1026 » Mon Dec 13, 2004 6:18 am

Thank you a lot!
Your analysis is helpful and solves my problems.

I think that "cease to be" means "die", doesn't it?

And would you mind explaining for me why Keats' beloved woman is a "creature of an hour". Did they stay with each other for only one hour?
-------------------------
Thank you,
Sincerely
ifif1026
 
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Joined: Thu Dec 09, 2004 9:00 am

Postby Saturn » Mon Dec 13, 2004 10:29 am

"Cease to be" does indeed mean to die.

About the "fair creature of an hour" - this was merely a girl he saw in the park one day - I don't think he ever met her - so she is "a creature of an hour" because she was merely someone whom he saw on one day and never got to know at all.
"Oh what a misery it is to have an intellect in splints".
Saturn
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Postby ifif1026 » Tue Dec 14, 2004 4:07 am

:) thank you
with your help and reiterative reading Keats' poem
I think I learn a lot and start to admire Keat

thanks again~
ifif1026
 
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