When I Have Fears and Mezzo Cammin Comparison

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2008 AP LIT FREE RESPONSE: Section II, Question One In both poems “When I Have Fears” by John Keats, and “Mezzo Cammin” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, both narrators expose their unfulfilled aspirations with the underlying fear that death will soon approach. Keats explains how his career as a famous, credited author has not yet been fulfilled, and fears that he will not live long enough to do so. Conversely, Longfellow looks back on his past slightly disappointed, but assured that he has the latter half of his life to accomplish his objectives and goals. Longfellow is dismal and terrified of death, while Keats comes to realize that his dreams are infinitesimal in the grand scheme of things, and any life lived is a gift that will eventually succumb to death. Keats’ poem is one extensive run-on sentence that truly “runs” across the page. It entails a great deal of information in a very short work. Because lines are jammed into one another, the reader is given a sense of abruptness. The lack of punctuation at the end of each line causes the poem to emanate a rushed, nervous and hurried tone. The narrator explains in the first line that he “may cease to be” and rushes to include he is afraid to die “before [his] pen has glean’d [his] teeming brain”. It almost seems as though Keats was unable to fit his ideas neatly into spaced lines, with punctuation marks because he is afraid to lose valuable time while he is still living. In Longfellow’s poem, however, pauses, punctuation and composition of multiple sentences produce a relaxed tone and overall feel of the poem. The poem is filled with caesuras that decrease the entire speed of the poem. “Half of my life is gone,” the comma allows for a pause and a deep breath to continue on to say “and I have let the years slip from me”. This breath also demonstrates the solemn and ashamed feelings brought up by the mention of

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