Prompt: 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.
"What is death but a passage to life." Travis M. Farnsworth
Although both poems, When I Have Fears by John Keats and Just Before Leaving for Home by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, talk about the short time they have left to really live their lives they take a surprising turn when they both take a different approach in their conclusions. Although Longfellow sees his past "half-way up the hill" and sees it vanishing he fears seems to fear death that is thundering above him. Keats on the other hand feels that he will never get to live up to what he wanted to do in life. At the end of the poem he also seems to give up and mention that either way love and fame will be nothing when he's gone.
Both poets approach the coming of the end with love and the feeling of sorrow through their poems. "That I shall never look upon thee more", Keats mentions to fear he has to never see this love again. He does mention it to be love because in the last line he mentions love deteriorating to nothing in the end. Longfellow approaches love by saying, "Of restless passion that would not be stilled" which kind of makes it sound as is Longfellow feels he has been wasting time in life with worthless love. Both authors seem to regret a lot of their past because they do not seem to want the end to come so soon. With words like "fears", "not fulfilled", and "death" there is a feeling that these poets have a very similar view on the fact that they see and know death is coming but they wish they had longer time to not just end up with what they have experienced so far.
Although very similar in one way both poets in their poems in very different ways. Keats takes a very low key and not very exciting ending. On the other hand Longfellow takes on the approach of full imagery and a very interesting ending ("The cataract of Death far thundering from the heights"). Keats throughout his poem talks about wishing for being more then he is and loving but in the end has no hope and reveals that he feels no matter what those things will go away so why bother dealing with them. Longfellow on the other hand talks about the love he has wasted through the years and is closing his past in the twilight but still is more apprehensive about the life he has before death then Keats. Longfellow is still climbing the hill he is talking about during his poem but Keats seems to be done.
Although both poems carry very similar messages about the end to come, these poets have taken very different approaches to the way they have lived life. They both carry sad messages but Longfellow seems to be a wanting to see ahead more the Keats. Through the diction and syntax used by both poets we are able to make an analysis on the contrasting views that can only be seen when read and analyzed carefully. Both poets honestly making death a realization that no matter what it will happen.