and here's up to page 9:
Could this account for his alarming earlier assertions in the sonnet? The third quatrain offers an answer to this question:
And when I feel, fair creature of an hour!
That I shall never look upon thee more,
Never have relish in the faery power
Of unreflecting love!
In the final quatrain, Keats broaches the subject of love. Biographers know that Keats was not referring to Fanny Brawne in line 9, as he would not even meet her until the latter part of 1818. Instead, he was making a reference to a woman he saw at Vauxhaull while in London; he watched her from a distance for a handful of minutes, but this brief encounter would, apparently, have quite an extraordinary ripple effect on Keats’s life:
The meeting itself was nothing: for half an hour or so he watched her as she talked with friends over a table, enthralled by her every gesture…the emotion the experience kindled somehow survived and grew to a talismanic significance in Keats’s mind…the early lyric already hints at a recurrent theme of his later work: beauty as a rare and unearthly visitant, who appears and then departs as suddenly as she came, leaving a chill of premonition in the air behind her (Ward 39).
This “chill of premonition” speaks loudly in lines 9-12. Keats is declaring how he will be barred from experiencing love’s “faery power” generated by the brief meeting with the mystery Vauxhaull girl. Interestingly enough, he uses the phrase “unreflecting love” in line 12. This phrase would seem to indicate an unreciprocated or unrealized love—exactly the kind of love he would later experience more deeply with Fanny Brawne. The London encounter wielded a “power” over Keats, a power he worried he would never fully experience because of untimely death. Alongside predicting his death, and in longing for emotional fulfillment with regard to his longstanding passion for the Vauxhaull beauty, Keats was foretelling the occurrence of “unreflecting love” in his life, which would later come to painful fruition.
The sonnet’s couplet reveals the poet’s resolution (or lack thereof) to his consternation:
--Then on the shore
Of the wide world I stand alone, and think
Till love and fame to nothingness do sink (Ricks 221).
The poet offers a nebulous verdict with regard to his dilemma. This is an example of Keats’s Negative Capability philosophy. He, instead, chooses to remain in uncertainty instead of engaging in “irritable reaching after fact & reason” to help explain why he fears dying young and missing the opportunity to become famous and find love. While employing his own philosophy, Keats also concludes his portentous sonnet with an underlying statement about acceptance and tolerating inevitability. The surety of Keats’s prediction is powerful enough to warrant a gridlock in the sonnet’s couplet; he cannot say for sure when his time on earth will end, and so the poet “stand[s] alone,” and “the identity of everyone begins to press upon [him] that, [he] is in a very little time annihilated.” (Bush 280)
The foretelling theme of “When I Have Fears” is complimented by the poem’s structure. Keats had previously enjoyed the Petrarchan sonnet form; however, with this sonnet came his first departure from that tradition. He uses the Shakespearean sonnet form in “When I Have Fears,” marking new poetic territory. The structural parting noted a fresh start for Keats, who was immersing himself in poesy at the time. He would have breathtaking surroundings with which to work—Keats was getting ready to embark upon a walking tour of Scotland with his friend, Charles Brown, in the upcoming summer of 1818—while waiting for “Endymion” to go to print (Hebron 60). Seemingly, life was busy and opportunities were buzzing for the young poet. The severity of his youngest brother’s illness would not be realized for another few months; it is difficult to imagine Keats having sufficient reason to cast out such a premonition as he does in this early sonnet; however, it is relevant to his life that this new, poetic structural beginning would collide with such an ominous theme. Keats, himself would agree that the paradox is alluring and intriguing as he asserts in another early poem, “On Seeing the Elgin Marbles:”
My spirit is too weak—mortality
Weighs heavily on me like unwilling sleep,
And each imagined pinnacle and steep
Of godlike hardship, tells me I must die
Like a sick Eagle looking at the sky (Ricks 99).
"I am certain of nothing but the holiness of the heart's affections and the Truth of Imagination."