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When I have fears that I may cease to be
When I have fears that I may cease to be
by John Keats

When I have fears that I may cease to be Theme of Love

Keats' brand of love is the stuff that romantic legends are made of… if only he could ever feel any of it himself. When Keats writes of love, it's not just of a pair of fine eyes. That would be waaaaay too easy. Nope, his love is HUGE and IMPOSSIBLE and always, always tinged with a healthy dose of despair. We get the feeling that Keats would have been a whole lot happier as a knight in shining armor, complete with a huge white horse. Turns out that the 19th century wasn't so full of castles and giants to conquer and damsels to rescue – so Keats is left dreaming of a love that ultimately remains available only in his imagination.

Questions About Love

  1. Does it sound like the speaker has ever been in a real relationship? How can you tell?
  2. Do you think that love is a positive emotion in this poem? Why or why not?
  3. Is love as fickle as Keats' speaker seems to think it is?
  4. Do you feel like this is an accurate description of the way love affects a person? Why or why not?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

The speaker's vision of love is unrealistic. Even if he lived to a ripe old age, he would never experience the kind of love described here.

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