Keats’ Fear And Tichborne’s Acceptance: Death

2059 words - 9 pages

Death is inevitable. Chidiock Tichborne and John Keats in their poems “Tichborne’s Elegy” and “When I have fears that I may cease to be” convey death in opposite ways. Tichborne through his poetic style, shows an acceptance of his death, as a result of reflecting on a life fulfilled, but unrecognized. While Keats, expresses a fear of death, where he contemplates that he will not be able to experience love or fame. Both these poets have lead lives that varied from each other in ways that are most revealed through their use of form, metaphors, repetition, punctuation and rhyme schemes. Moreover, both poets express and explore deep rooted human emotions such as, nostalgia, pain, love and a ...view middle of the document...

..” (ll 5-6). Interestingly he uses the word “romance” in this quatrain, which signals the subject of the next quatrain, but he concludes the quatrain, with the words, “And think that I may never live to trace, their shadows, / with the magic hand of chance…” (ll 7-8). The conclusion of the second quatrain reflects his fear of not being able to write about a beautiful sky, or other things of beauty in nature, and again he uses the semicolon to show that it is connected to the rest of the poem. The last quatrain, before his couplet shows his fear of not satisfying his sexual needs with a woman, when he exclaims that he will “Never have relish in the faery power / of unreflecting love!” (ll 11-12). The final lines of the poem, shift from a tone of despair to a kind of neutrality. He abruptly gets into the couplet before it begins in the previous quatrain with a dash, signifying his solution to his fears, which is namely to stand alone before the world, and think. It is by thinking, and contemplating about the fears he has mentioned, do they disappear, and it is with this idea he ends his poem, as he states, “…I stand alone, and think / Till Love and Fame to nothingness do sink” (ll 13-14). Keats method of analysis ends with a solution to his fears, and the tone of his poem is that of unfulfilled expectations, of a life not fully lived, unlike “Tichborne’s Elegy.”
“Tichborne’s Elegy” is a poem that consists of 18 lines divided into three sixians which includes a couplet at the end of each stanza. The last lines end with periods, but a refrain sums up Tichborne’s awareness of his death, and nostalgia towards life. In Helen Vendler’s work “The Poem as Life, the Poems as Arranged Life,” she suggests that the repetition of the refrain serves the purpose of reinforcing the idea of what has happened, or in Tichborne’s case what is happening (48). As shown in the epigraph of the poem, Tichborne had “written [the poem] with his own hand in the Tower before his execution.” His situation caused him to have an immediate understanding of his mortality, forcing him to reflect on his life with a bitterness, that is reinforced by the refrain. He uses the conjunctions “but” and “and” in every line of his poem to show how his life was, and how it is now. Tichborne switches from the past and present in every one of his lines, in a way that the first four words of each line begin with a positive statement and then he polarizes it. In the first stanza, he realizes the great moments of his life were actually small, and what he once considered significant is actually insignificant. In his reflection about his life, he realizes how wretched it all was, when he says for example, “My feast of joy is but a dish of pain” (2). Where what was once a “feast” is now a “dish,” moreover, in the line after he continues, “My crop of corn is but a field of tares” (3). Again, he reduces the first part of the line from “crop” to “field,” in a dark realization of how little he has...

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