When I Have Fears

Knowing that it’s Thursday, I’ve been thinking all day about what I was going to post. I’ve had a week where I didn’t quite keep my writing regimen as strictly as I should’ve, which is something I struggle with all the time. This meant, that I had nothing written in advance of today, and no real idea about what to say.

I got home this afternoon after Thanksgiving dinner, and decided I needed a nap. When I got up, my favorite Keats poem popped into my brain, and as the first thought I had, and I figured it was time to share it with you.

WHEN I have fears that I may cease to be  
Before my pen has glean’d my teeming brain,  
Before high pil`d books, in charact’ry,  
Hold like rich garners the full-ripen’d grain;  
When I behold, upon the night’s starr’d face,          5
Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,  
And feel 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,   10
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.

There is so  much I love about this poem. It’s like, decades before I was born, Keats reached across time and space and looked into my brain and described it perfectly.  I probably wouldn’t have used a sonnet, but, hey, it’s his thing, and he’d already breached time and space, I’ll cut the guy some slack.

I think about this poem at odd times. I hadn’t thought of it in years, but, in the last few weeks, it’s popped into my brain on a semi-regular basis. It’s comforting to me, and I feel a little less lonely, and it calms my “teaming brain” just a touch.

Yeah, I know. Some people rub stones when they’re in need of soothing, I get “ear-wormed” by poetry.

There’s something about the familiarity of the fears haunting the edges of this poem. It’s nice to know I’m not the only person to have them, and that they are common enemies of creative people.

There is this juxtaposition of a mind full of ideas and the worry that time will slip before all the ideas can be brought to fruition. Not only is there a fear that something so wondrous as a starry sky will not be captured and admired in the form of poety or even prose, even in so much as a clumsy shadow of itself, there’s the scary notion that ideas will be left unexplored, or unharvested.

I share all this with you because maybe it’ll be soothing to someone else out there. Also, it was the only idea I had, and I’m opposed to wasting ideas, especially when I’ve got a self-imposed deadline looming.

Since it is Thanksgiving, I will bow to tradition, and express my thanks. I am feeling especially grateful for the people who are reading this. That’s right. I’m grateful for you. Thanks for spending your time with me.