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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

Man and the Natural World Theme

Nature takes center stage in this poem in odd ways. Pretty much everything that Keats has to say about love and desire (and even about writing) comes out as a meditation on the natural world. Nature, you see, becomes a stand-in for everything that occurs in human life… which is funny, because when the speaker decides to reject all of the trials of human life, where does he turn? You guessed it… to nature. If you wanted to make sure that Keats was a Romantic poet, well, here's your proof.

Questions About Man and the Natural World

  1. How would this poem be different if Keats' metaphors were, say, about machines?
  2. Does Keats present a realistic picture of the natural world?
  3. When the speaker says he's standing on the "shore of the wide world," where you think that is?

Chew on This

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

The natural world is a source of comfort for the speaker. It calms his fears.

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