When I Have Fears Questions and Answers
by John Keats

Start Your Free Trial

Discuss the ending of the poem "When I Have Fears" by John Keats. Does nothingness evoke nihilism, depression, or a kind of freedom?

Expert Answers info

Helen Mao, M.A. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseTeacher (K-12), Professional Writer

bookB.A. from Yale University

bookM.A. from Columbia University

calendarEducator since 2020

write139 answers

starTop subject is Literature

Romantic poet John Keats ends his 1848 Elizabethan sonnet,“When I Have Fears That I May Cease To Be,” with two things he aspires to—fame and love—dissolving into to “nothingness.” This “nothingness” evokes feelings of not nihilism or a kind of freedom but depression.

Keats expresses his fear that he will die before accomplishing his two major goals: literary fame and romantic love. He worries that he will not be able to write and record with “his pen” all the ideas that fill his “teeming brain” to create the many “high-piled” volumes of poetry he wishes and plans to produce. He will not have a chance to earn or “garner” renown and accolades or “full ripened grain” for his literary accomplishments. Keats also fears that with death, he will no longer be able to experience romantic love; he will not be able to gaze upon his lover and feel...

(The entire section contains 451 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

check Approved by eNotes Editorial