Friday, April 04, 2008

Poetry Month -- Day 4

This poem probably doesn't need any introduction or lengthy preamble.

WHEN I HAVE FEARS

When I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has glean'd my teeming brain,
Before high-piled books, in charact'ry
Hold like rich garners the full-ripen'd grain;
When I behold, upon the night's starr'd face,
Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,
And think that I may never live to trace
Their shadows, with the magic hand of chance;
And when I feel, fair creature of an hour,
That I shall never look upon thee more,
Never have relish in the faery power
Of unreflecting love! -- then on the shore
Of the wide world I stand alone, and think
Till Love and Fame to nothingness do sink.

--John Keats

This is a young man's poem, I think. Or rather, I know it, since Keats was dead at 24. Does that fact lend this poem extra weight? I think it does. I don't have a lot to say about it that hasn't been said before, and better than I can say it. I'll just say that I don't feel that burning that Keats did to get it all down on paper, to never waste an ounce of talent, etc. I think this means I'll never be Keats. And I think I'm fine with that. But damn, this is a great poem.

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