Analysis Of The Poem ' The ' When I Have Fears ' And Longfellow 's Mezzo Cammin

806 Words Sep 14th, 2015 4 Pages
Fate touches all with tendrils of cruelty. The singer goes mute, the birdwatcher blind; the infant succumbs to his illness. But few fates are harsher than for the artist to die with a gleam in his eyes, his dreams forever unrealized. The gates of creation close and lock, never again to swing open. In previous centuries, the fear of such a fate permeated the lives of writers, painters, and poets, who lived in a world rich with art but low in life expectancy. This unresolvable angst, and the frequency with which death struck, animated the Romantic poets of the 1800s, stoked their fears of failure, and stimulated reflective, eloquent verse. Some Romantics, like the Englishman John Keats, answered this inner dread; others, like the American Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, merely lamented it. Structural differences between Keats’ sonnet “When I Have Fears” and Longfellow’s “Mezzo Cammin” reflect the divergence of the poets’ perceptions of and reactions to this condition. Keats structures “When I Have Fears” as a Shakespearean sonnet, divided into three quatrains and a couplet. The elegant quatrains describe, in considerable detail, Keats’ fear of a premature death (Keats 1-12). These lines act as subordinate clauses, precipitating a conclusion in which Keats responds to his dread, allowing his passions and vanity (“love and fame”) to recede to “nothingness” (Keats 12-14). Keats establishes a consistent rhythm, albeit one that permits a degree of flexibility, by writing in…

Related Documents