WHEN I HAVE FEARS THAT I MAY CEASE TO BE

- By John Keats
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John Keats (31 October 1795 – 23 February 1821) was an English poet prominent in the second generation of Romantic poets, with Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley, although his poems were in publication for only four years before he died of tuberculosis at the age of 25.[1] They were indifferently received by critics in his lifetime, but his fame grew rapidly after his death.[2] By the end of the century he had been placed in the canon of English literature and become the inspiration for the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, with a strong influence on many writers; the Encyclopædia Britannica described one ode as "one of the final masterpieces". Jorge Luis Borges called his first encounter with Keats's work an experience that he felt all of his life.[3] It had a style "heavily loaded with sensualities", notably in the series of odes. Typically of the Romantics, he accentuated extreme emotion through emphasis on natural imagery. Today his poems and letters remain among the most popular and analysed in English literature. Especially acclaimed are "Ode to a Nightingale", "Ode on a Grecian Urn", "Sleep and Poetry" and the sonnet "On First Looking into Chapman's Homer". John Keats was born in Moorgate, London, on 31 October 1795 to Thomas Keats and his wife, Frances Jennings. There is little evidence of his exact birthplace. Although Keats and his family seem to have marked his birthday on 29 October, baptism records give the date as the 31st.[4][5] He was the eldest of four surviving children; his younger siblings were George (1797–1841), Thomas (1799–1818), and Frances Mary "Fanny" (1803–1889) who eventually married Spanish author Valentín Llanos Gutiérrez.[6] Another son was lost in infancy. His father first worked as a hostler[7] at the stables attached to the Swan and Hoop Inn, an establishment he later managed, and where the growing family lived for some years. Keats believed that he was born at the inn, a birthplace of humble origins, but there is no evidence to support his belief.[5] The Globe pub now occupies the site (2012), a few yards from the modern-day Moorgate station.[8] He was baptised at St Botolph-without-Bishopsgate, and sent to a local dame school as a child.[4][9]

WHEN I HAVE FEARS THAT I MAY CEASE TO BE

John Keats" by William Hinton is in the public domain.

When I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has gleaned my teeming brain,
Before high-piled books, in charactery,
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 think 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

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