Study Guide

When I have fears that I may cease to be Love

By John Keats

Love

Before my pen has glean'd my teeming brain, (2)

This line isn't <em>exactly</em> about love in the traditional sense… but we sure get the feeling that the speaker has lots of warm and fuzzy feelings for himself and his own "teeming brain." At the very least, this quote evidences a healthy dose of self-satisfaction – if not outright self-love.

When I behold, upon the night's starr'd face, 

 Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance, (4-5)

Remember that moment in <em>The Lion King</em> where Simba and Mufasa stare up at the stars? It turns out that Disney was in good company… Keats seems to think that all his love (past, present, and future) is written up on the "night's starr'd face." Notice the personification of the night? If we didn't know better, we'd say he was planning to get it on with nature itself.

And when I feel, fair creature of an hour, 

That I shall never look upon thee more, (9-10)

Sigh. Isn't love so sweet? Except, of course, when the speaker is already planning for the time when he won't have to hang out with you anymore. Notice how Keats turns the loved one into an object here? The "fair creature" is just a sight for his eyes, much like a painting or a statue. Is this an expression of true love? We're not so sure.

[…] the faery power

 Of unreflecting love; […] (11-12)

Fairies and moonbeams and rainbows, folks. That's the stuff of Romantic love. We've said it before, but we'll say it again now: we're just a wee bit worried that Keats' speaker is so caught up in making this love exciting for himself that he forgets to base it in reality. After all, when was the last time that you hung out with fairies?

Of unreflecting love […] (12)

For a guy who spends all his time thinking about love, we're tempted to say that he doesn't do a whole lot of <em>reflecting</em> upon the matter. Heck, he even says so himself. We don't want to rain on anyone's parade, but it seems like Keats is happiest when he's thinking about impossible things.

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