AP LIT Essay examples

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Although the poems “When I Have Fears” by John Keats and “Mezzo Cammin” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow showcase an abundance of similarities, there appears to be many definitive differences that differentiate and contrast the overall message of both poems. Keats and Longfellow both reflect and expand on the concept of unfulfilled experiences and the quick-approaching fate of their death. However, both poets take on a strikingly different perspective on the issue. Longfellow takes on a retrospective approach and looks back on life in a negative attitude by explaining what kept him from achieving his goals, and concluding with a reflection on his death, which, seems imminent. In contrast, Keats’ poem is forward-looking: he writes about things he may never do, experiences he will never have, and finishes by reflecting on his lonely state. Overall, Keats shows an open-mindedness and hopefulness toward life, while Longfellow demonstrates a tone that is regretful and remorseful. It is imperative to note that both Keats and Longfellow have many similarities that make the two poems comparable. Both poems open up in a manner that views death as something that is destructive and limiting. Longfellow stresses that “Half of my life is gone” while Keats fears that he may “cease to be”. They both stress the point that life goes by fast and that time is running out. Keats demonstrates this point using an anaphora and repetition of the word : “before”. In effect, Keats emphasizes that he will not get the chance to finish his writings. He then uses a simile to compare how he sees the possibility of his future works to be that of “full-ripen’d grain”. Similarly, Longfellow also expresses his concern of not being able to attain all that he could. He states that “The years slip from me and have not fulfilled/ The aspiration of my youth”. Furthermore, both poets utilize the sonnet as their form. Keats uses a Shakesperean Sonnet form while Longfellow uses a Petrarchan Sonnet form. Sonnets traditionally tend to be about deep emotions. Therefore, both Keats and Longfellow took advantage of this to channel their emotion through a form that historical tends to be melodramatic. The two poems,however, differ and contrast each other through the conclusive remarks and perspectives they take on the issue. Longfellow reflects on his life with remorse and regret. He goes on to explain that he cared too much about the world around him to get the things he wanted done, “Of restless passions that would be stilled, But sorrow, and a care that almost killed, kept me from what I may accomplish yet;”. In essence, his “sorrow” and