When I have fears that I may cease to be Lines 12-14
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[…] —then on the shore Of the wide world I stand alone, and think, Till Love and Fame to nothingness do sink.
If you know anything about sonnets, you probably know that they are fourteen lines long and usual have a "turn," a point in the poem that signals a major reversal in the thoughts or desires that shaped the first few lines of the poem. Oftentimes the turn occurs around line 8 or 9.
Keats actually starts his turn in line twelve. Don't worry, we'll talk more about that in our "Form and Meter" section.
Keats has spent a good deal of time thinking about fame, writing, and desire, as well as the possibilities and impossibilities of love. Now, though, he takes a step back and scopes out the "wide world." This, folks, is a key Romantic move. You could almost write up a formula for all Romantic poetry based upon it:
Speaker gets caught up in tumultuous, overwhelming, passionate desires.
Speaker goes off alone to contemplate nature.
Speaker realizes that all his/her desires are petty and small – especially when they're compared to the scope of the outside world.
See? Keats follows this formula exactly. You could almost say that he wrote it himself. In fact, we think we will.