1. In the two poems below, Keats and Longfellow reflect on similar concerns. Read the poems carefully.
Then write an essay in which you compare and contrast the two poems, analyzing the poetic techniques
each writer uses to explore his particular situation.
When I Have Fears
When I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has glean’d my teeming brain,
Before high-piled books, in charactery,
Hold like rich garners the full ripen’d grain;
When I behold, upon the night’s starr’d 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
Til love and fame to nothingness do sink.
--John Keats (1795 – 1821)
Written at Boppard on the Rhine August 25, 1842,
Just Before Leaving for Home
Half of my life is gone, and I have let
The years slip from me and have not fulfilled
The aspiration of my youth, to build
Some tower of song with lofty parapet.
Not indolence, nor pleasure, nor the fret
Of restless passions that would not be stilled
But sorrow, and a care that almost killed,
Kept me from what I may accomplish yet;
Though, half-way up the hill, I see the Past
Lying beneath me with its sounds and sights,-
A city in the twilight dim and vast,
With smoking roofs, soft bells, and gleaming lights,-
And hear above me on the autumnal blast
of Death far thundering from the heights.
--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807 – 1882)
The title is from the first lines of Dante’s
“Nel mezzo del cammin de nostra vita” (“Midway upon the
journey of our life.”)
A large waterfall
Maya Angelou PCS/DCPS Partnership High School