Keats wrote many poems that helped in defining the Romantic tradition. He was a poet from the Romantic era of eternity. ‘When I Have Fears’ is a poem that he wrote when he was 25 years old and dying of tuberculosis. The poem is about his fear of dying before he could flourish to his full potential. His purpose is to express his grief for missing out on so many life opportunities and not being able to leave something in his place that will make him remembered forever. He explores multiple themes including love, death and beauty however; the main emotion that can be drawn from the sonnet is fear. He successfully relates to the human condition in all times and places and exhibits the Romantic values of the time. Keats believed that our human minds are immortal however we are mortals and we cannot stop the clock. These emotions are expressed through a metaphor in his first two quatrains.
When I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has glean’d my teeming brain
Keats new that he was going to die before he could even come close to his ‘full ripen’d grain’. He had a brain full of ravishing ideas that he would never be able to share with the world. He was always a promising poet but was not yet known by a lot of people prior to his death. He knew what he was born to do, poetry was his vocation. His purpose in writing this poem is to express his sorrow of dying before he has lived ‘to trace their shadows’. He had so much to live for but his time was slipping through his fingers like water. He believed that human imaginations were everlasting, the creative minds of people would never stop, there would always be another idea, but there would not always be time. His work transcends and perfectly describes the impossibility of fighting the destructive forces of time. Other than Keats’ ambition to strive for fame in his artistic work, he fell in love at a young age, and his passion for his love is portrayed through the metaphor ‘fair creature of an hour’.
This metaphor is expresses so much emotion. Keats was completely and irrevocably in love with Fanny Brawne. The words ‘fair creature’ make her seem like the most precious and delicate thing in the entire world. This metaphor perfectly grasps the depth of human emotions. It creates a picture in our minds that this person is so special that there is only a limited time to have her. Keats loved Fanny more than anything in the world; his endless love for her is shown in his poem ‘Bright Star’. Love is an emotion that is experienced by all humans, without love the world could not exist. But what will be the point in this love once he is dead?
Of the wide world I stand alone and think
Till love and fame to nothingness do sink
These quatrains show that Keats is on the edge between life and death. He is all alone now, as everybody