John Keats, When I have Fears that I may Cease to be

Perhaps this poem is an omen that Keats knew that he would die young. Or perhaps, this is simply a worry of all people who don’t want to go before they feel their work is finished. The speaker, presuming Keats himself, portrays his love for books, filled with “charactery,” by likening them to garners that hold “full ripened grain.” This is an agricultural reference which is ironic because most agricultural images are not usually associated with books. Nevertheless, Keats does not focus on the opposition here but instead likens it in its highest esteem. Finally, when the speaker shares his fears of ceasing to be this does not necessarily mean death. It appears in the last lines “and think/Till love and fame to nothingness do sink” that he is also speaking about his legacy.

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