John Keats wrote during the Romantic Period, which was a time of great change due to events such as the Industrial Revolution. Keats expresses this transformation in his poems as it reflects his lifestyle. In two of his poems, ‘When I have fears that may cease to be’ and ‘Bright Star’ Keats conveys the mutability of human existence and how he grudgingly learns to accept it, as the poem progresses. These two poems illustrate a feeling of frustration within his personal experience. Keats had a relatively depressing childhood, which may have led to frustration and fear of change in his life.
Keats experienced deaths in his family, he had a sister and three brothers die at birth and his father was killed when he was eight. He refers to the trepidation of death in both poems, which enables the reader to conclude it is the factor of change and for him the ultimate and somewhat inevitable loss of loved ones that worries and frustrates him. Through his writing he learns to deal with the mutability of human existence and accepts it. ‘When I have fears that may cease to be’ was Keats’ first Shakespearean sonnet. He is describing three things he is concerned with missing in life.
In this poem Keats is expressing his fears, that death will deny him fulfilment. He is anticipating death; this is the reference to change in human existence. He does not want to die before he has written all the poems he aspires to. “When I have fears that I may cease to be, before my pen has glean’d” shows this, as he believes his pen has not yet obtained its full potential. He also uses metaphors explaining nature in contrast to writing great poetry before dying.
Keats’ main worry is that time will run out for him.In the third quatrain he addresses a women who he briefly encountered at Vauxhall Gardens, she inspired him to write about his concern for never experiencing love, “Never have relish in the feary power” feary power is referring to loves’ qualities. Keats wants to experience love before he “ceases to be. ” There are numerous references to natural images to describe the process of composition Keats’ mention of the shore creates a boundary of life and death, this expresses the idea of nature, and even though he doubts his fulfilment to the world he has to accept the role of nature.
The final couplet shows Keats’ realisation of this, he accepts his future, as poetry, fame and love will not matter if he is going to die anyway. This expresses the idea of finding something on the other side of hard work and pain in order to truly discover who you are. ‘When I have fears… ‘ and ‘Bright Star’ are both written in the style of a Shakespearean sonnet this is generally because he uses Shakespearean themes, such as love and death.
Though they both mention love and death it is described in different contexts. ‘When I have fears..
. ‘ explains the fear of death without experiencing life properly as a writer.