Keats Sonnets Quiz. Essay Samples Prompt: The speaker of “When I Have Fears” sometimes feels that love and fame are “nothingness.” Based on both sonnets, what values did Keats consider most important in life? Answer this question, supporting your points with evidence from the poems. Sample 1
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Prompt: The speaker of “When I Have Fears” sometimes feels that love and fame are “nothingness.” Based on both sonnets, what values did Keats consider most important in life? Answer this question, supporting your points with evidence from the poems.
Keats displays his values vividly in his sonnets. It is clear that he has a strong appreciation for knowledge, adventure, and love. Knowledge is something Keats believes he posses while adventure and love are experiences that he feels he will miss out on after death. “On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer” and “When I Have Fears” allow the reader to see his passion for these values.
The love of knowledge is most evident in the sonnet “On First Looking into Chapman’s
Homer.” The entire poem discusses the enlightenment that arrives with his reading. Keats relates himself to an adventurer, Cortez, and a “watcher of the skies” to express the depth of his amazement. This passion is seen also in “When I Have Fears” because he speaks of “High-piled books.” He speaks of his writing and his brain that is overflowing with words.
Adventure is a value seen in both sonnets as well. It is noticeable when he relates knowledge to Cortez’s journeys. More noticeably though it is mentioned in “When I Have Fears.” Keats worries
about never living a life of “high romance.” He is referencing his lack of time for grand quests.
Love is clearly valued by the poet. In “When I Have Fears” he pines for the woman who he describes as a “fair creature.” His concern is not only that he will not see her anymore, but also that he will never feel the power of love. By mentioning fame, Keats even reveals a desire to be publicly adored.
Even though Keats tries to reason love and fame into “nothingness,” he still places them very high among his values. For one thing, how can he successfully think them into “nothingness,” at least for very long? Evidence for this is my own knowledge of life and my personal desires, plus the fact that “When I Have Fears” is full of references to Keats’s desire for poetic fame. Additionally, he chooses to mention those two
values– love and fame – precisely because they are the ones he finds hardest to think away. In fact the images of the “teeming” brain and the granary high-piled with metaphorical works of literature show that he has not succeeded in putting those thoughts away for even the time needed to write the sonnet. Supporting this view are the images in “On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer,” where it is clear that poetic beauty is his highest value. So love of poetry and of a beloved, plus the fame that comes with the highest achievement of poetic beauty, are his supreme values.