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When I have fears...

John Keats (1795-1821)
WHEN I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has glean'd my teeming brain,
Before high pil`d books, in charact'ry,
Hold like rich garners the full-ripen'd grain;
When I behold, upon the night's starr'd face, 5
Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,
And feel 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, 10
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.

Here's mine.
When I am frightened all shall end
before my epic poem is through,
ere I have chance to shape and mend
the tales I want to tell to you;
When I can view the storyline
unwritten in my teeming brain
and know that I shall soon resign
from life and all has been in vain;
And when I fear, you poets of such peerless grace
shall never know my chronicle,
then all my wonder I erase
and ponder the ironical.

Style / type: 
Structured: Western
Last few words: 
This is my favorite poem. It took me a number of years reading it to be able to do so without tearing up. I'm a very sensitive guy. wesley
Editing stage: 
Workshop: 

Comments

The fact that you read this poem and for a short period thought perhaps I wrote it is easily (I mean like, far and away) the highest compliment I've ever received.
Now though, come back and tell me about its meter and rhyme scheme.
Thank you Rosi. John is turning in his grave, but I'm blushing.
wesley

W. H. Snow

A poet is a nightingale, who sits in darkness and sings to cheer its own solitude with sweet sounds. Percy Bysshe Shelley

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author comment

He was a 19th century poet (one of the so called "big three"), a manic depressive (like me) and excruciatingly intelligent. As Woodhouse, a supporter said of him, "wayward, trembling and easily daunted". He studied to be a surgeon, but gave it up to be a rather unsuccessful poet. One of the early romantics, his poetry did not become popular until several years after his death of tuberculosis. His lyric poetry is some of the most image filled I have ever read. Try "Ode on a Grecian Urn" if you're curious.
And the meter of the poem, for the most part, is iambic pentameter. Like most of the romantics, his rhyme scheme fills his poetry, but is used haphazardly as he felt it. Something the "free versers" around here could probably relate to.
My poetry is much more mechanical than his, something I'm trying to break away from (with little success).
wesley

W. H. Snow

A poet is a nightingale, who sits in darkness and sings to cheer its own solitude with sweet sounds. Percy Bysshe Shelley

Learn how, teach others.
The NeoPoet Mentor Program
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author comment

if this workshop works as I intended you should find all these poems more accessible.

And yet, you wicked, lazy thing, the effort you spend on reading the originals would be of inestimable value to your own work and depth.

cheers,
Jess
Neopoet Directors

Rosi, no offense intended.

I was dead serious though when I suggested that the effort put in to these works is highly rewarding,
sincerely,

cheers,
Jess
Neopoet Directors

on the poem; When I Have Fears.
The contraction of so many words in this poem give rise to the thought that this poet is either lazy, or does not wish to credit the English language with being good enough for him, and this is the way that it should be written. The line of : [Hold like rich garners, the full ripen'd grain]... What does that mean? What is a rich garner? I have little patience for people who cannot lay down a line that can be plainly understood. ~ Gee

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First of all, all of Keats' contractions were in answer to the language of his day which would have put an extra accent on many of the "ed" suffixes. Remember this is 1818 and a poet would assume we would read "ripenéd" which he didn't want. The contractions, from Keats' perspective, were wholly necessary.
And a garner is a large grain silo or used as a verb it means to "gather and store". I have a small garner on my little ranch and garner is exactly what we call it.
Any thoughts on the meter and rhyme scheme?
wesley

W. H. Snow

A poet is a nightingale, who sits in darkness and sings to cheer its own solitude with sweet sounds. Percy Bysshe Shelley

Learn how, teach others.
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author comment

but it is as important for you to critique the poem as anyone else, not defend it.

Edit the contractions, they are no longer valid and perhaps change some of the more archaic words.

Poems don't have to be spoon fed, but there is no need for us to translate to obsolete pronunciations. Doesn't it shit you
"what immortal hand or eye
framed they fearful symmetry"?

For you especially, I would like you to garner the full meaning of this and write it in free verse.

skinhead version-
what the fuck?
burn that crap,
or use it for the crapper.

cheers,
Jess
Neopoet Directors

The Nuances

We all have to learn
The Nuances
Of how to pave our ways
Through this poetic site
You rarely visit my page
Gradually you shall become
As adept as I have,
To meander the courses here,
Like a serpent avoiding
The machinations of wiles
So be it your stance too,
You will learn a trick or two,
Praise is all we hanker for,
No not I alone, nor you
Is an exception, that’s true?

loved

talk about self delusion.

cheers,
Jess
Neopoet Directors

Thank you for posting this particular piece,
I can see why you love it so. For me, this points
out the need for poets to evolve with the language
and the time. The use of contractions in poetry is
outdated, unnecessary, and for the most part used
to keep meter, which it does in this poem. The meter
is good, it sounds great out loud, but for me, it doesn't
pull any heart strings, and I can only attribute that to the
overuse of contracting words to make it fit, because the
content is good, just seems to get lost in the language.

thanks for posting

Richard

Interesting thread.

For me there is an underlying reality of emotion Keats words evoke. Because it is written in verse consistent with its time, I find it *work* to uncover. However, I love the work of uncovering. Don't want my poems to be handed to me on a silver platter, so to speak. I may as well read nursery rhymes then.

Moreover, until recently, poetry was a high art for rich and poor and all well-educated folks either thrived on it or pretended to. It's much a lost art in modern times for the masses although Rumi is a best seller the last few years. The cultures of the East still thrive on poetry and do much to elevate poets (or kill them because of their penchant for telling the truth).

You hit the nail on the head, Wesley, when you concluded that his random rhymes are more consistent with free versers. My rhyming comes as it comes and goes when it does. Perhaps because I have little affinity to bipolar (though my father suffered from it) it's really difficult for me to wrap my head around his poem as well as you do, Wesley. But because I believe, no know, that human beings are able to *tune in another's kindred frequency* I can see how this made you weep and holds such a dear place in your heart.

Thanks for sharing.

~A

Elfie, this workshop is a bit magical, a bit shamanic. Thank you so much for the insight in starting it, knowing where it might lead.

I would like to see this much more relevant.

cheers,
Jess
Neopoet Directors

When I have fears that thou might set me free
and leave my pen's graffiti on your brain,
a library of travelogues I'd see;
cheap paperbacks of journeys by steam train.

I can only agree with the foregoing crits. It's all too sentimental but somehow passionless.

Ian

TIME FLIES LIKE AN ARROW, BUT FRUIT FLIES LIKE A BANANA

that's what the workshop is for.

cheers,
Jess
Neopoet Directors

...this is a good idea for a workshop and perhaps we should do it again every three or four. Not only does it give us an opportunity to criticize without hurting any feelings (most of them are dead) it also exposes us to poetry and poets we otherwise might not meet.
My critique. I had no problem with the contractions since with them the words are pronounced as we will pronounce them today. He included the contractions to defeat a mispronunciation of many words due to the style of the day. Unfortunately, I cannot find fault with the poem to offer in critique. Undoubtedly this particular piece hits me exactly where I live and that would account for why it is one of my favorite pieces. If I can come up with anything to bitch about, I will let you know. Perhaps my next offering should be a poem I only sort of like.
wesley

W. H. Snow

A poet is a nightingale, who sits in darkness and sings to cheer its own solitude with sweet sounds. Percy Bysshe Shelley

Learn how, teach others.
The NeoPoet Mentor Program
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author comment

Wesley, I re-read the bullshit I wrote above and want to apologise for my egotistical crudity. I have the deftness of touch of a panzer brigade and the emotional depth of a 10-year-old. I hope you were not offended by my display of the arrogance of ignorance.

Ian

TIME FLIES LIKE AN ARROW, BUT FRUIT FLIES LIKE A BANANA

You can not tell me this poem is perfect.

cheers,
Jess
Neopoet Directors

You always strike with humor and I want your real opinion, not shmooze. Relax, you can't hurt me. wesley

W. H. Snow

A poet is a nightingale, who sits in darkness and sings to cheer its own solitude with sweet sounds. Percy Bysshe Shelley

Learn how, teach others.
The NeoPoet Mentor Program
http://www.neopoet.com/mentor/about

author comment

we truly set ourselves a daunting task. We could try to clean up the archaic language and the contractions for meter 'glean'd" is ok, we don't pronounce the final e anyway, but we may as well fix them to make it read more modern and accessible.

WHEN I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has gleaned my teeming brain,
[ I don't like self-reflexivity in poetry, any mention of poet, poetry or even pen, ink or paper makes me cringe, perhaps-
Before my thoughts have gleaned my teeming brain
Before high piled books, in charact'ry, [now this is cheating for meter]
Hold like rich garners the full-ripened grain;
When I behold, upon the night's starred face,
Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,
And feel 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.

I don't see a lot to edit here, except perhaps to say

Oi fuck!
you do my fucking head in!
Ya could a been my Chelsea girl,
but you're mental,
want to hitch me to the stars?
Fuck off.
But you got me by the goolies, scrag
Oi mush!
let's get pissed.

cheers,
Jess
Neopoet Directors

...Heavens. Get some rest. wesley

W. H. Snow

A poet is a nightingale, who sits in darkness and sings to cheer its own solitude with sweet sounds. Percy Bysshe Shelley

Learn how, teach others.
The NeoPoet Mentor Program
http://www.neopoet.com/mentor/about

author comment

but, I lost interest and never capture the real meaning with all those distracting apostrophe. I think John Keats was experimenting with this style of writing to see if it would work. For me it does not work. Those 'd really needs to be spell out into actual words.

*Collaborative Poetry Workshop* Amqerican Version of Japanese Poetry ~American Renga~ Free Verse, Western, Modern, etc ~ Renga ~ Haiku, Senyru, Tanka, Renga All Neopoets are welcome to join the Collaborative Poetry Writing fun.

colours a poem for me, is the background to it! To provide context, it is important to note that the poem was written by an author obsessed with death and whose slowly disappearing family was plagued with disease. In fact, his brother died one year after the poem was written, and Keats died just three years after that. Though its discussion of artistic angst and poetry is undeniable, it is important that the reader go from a more poetry-centered reading to a death-centered reading. With death at the center, it is easier to really see the shades of gray Keats paints regarding the popular poetic subject.
Sorry to disappoint you Jess and Wes, but this is one Masterpiece I'm hard pressed to find fault with!
Thanks for posting!

Bonitaj

Still one of my personal favorites. wesley

W. H. Snow

A poet is a nightingale, who sits in darkness and sings to cheer its own solitude with sweet sounds. Percy Bysshe Shelley

Learn how, teach others.
The NeoPoet Mentor Program
http://www.neopoet.com/mentor/about

author comment

yet still accessible to all ascribing scribes

Any feedback on this workshop or ideas for future ones please let me know at
http://new.neopoet.com/workshop/critique-quickie

cheers,
Jess
Neopoet Directors

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