In this installment, Wesley McNair reads “When I have fears that I may cease to be” by John Keats. McNair has received fellowships from the Rockefeller, Fulbright and Guggenheim foundations, an NEH Fellowship in literature, and two NEA fellowships. Other honors include the Jane Kenyon Award, the Robert Frost Award, the Theodore Roethke Prize, the Eunice Tietjens Prize from Poetry magazine, the Sarah Josepha Hale Medal, an Emmy Award, and two honorary degrees for literary distinction. His work has appeared in the Pushcart Prize annual, two editions of The Best American Poetry, over fifty anthologies, and fourteen books, including volumes of poetry and essays, and three anthologies. His new collection of poetry, The Ghosts of You & Me, will be out early in 2006. Samples of his work may be found at wesleymcnair.com.
John Keats, “When I have fears that I may cease to be”
WHEN I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has glean’d my teeming brain,
Before high piled books, in charact’ry,
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 may 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
Till Love and Fame to nothingness do sink.