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John Keats (1795-1821)

John Keats (1795-1821)

Purists and defenders of sonnet, beware: What you are about to read, if I have not already persuaded you otherwise, is a poetry form that is, as of this writing, about seventy-two minutes old. I call it Interlace, and for this first attempt, I have borrowed the sonnet by John Keats, “When I Have Fears”.

You could think of Interlace as an echo, a structured response to the original lines that can either be read in succession, as they appear, or as a stand-alone poem, with the original echoing the newer. Keats’s sonnet leads with the first line, and mine interlace, italicized with ellipses to set them off visually. I have mirrored his rhyme scheme of ABABCDCDEFEFGG and adopted, for my verse only, the more contemporary style of not capitalizing every line.


WHEN I have fears that I may cease to be
What are these quaking thoughts that o’er my sleep
Before my pen has glean’d my teeming brain,
portend a vanquish far beyond my strength
Before high piled books, in charact’ry,
in dialogue I’d gladly choose to keep
Hold like rich garners the full-ripen’d grain;
…tied up like sheaves immeasurable in length?
When I behold, upon the night’s starr’d face,
…Your features that I love and know so well
Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,
…they constellate across Orion’s belt,

And think that I may never live to trace
so like the goddess Nut my arc doth swell
Their shadows, with the magic hand of chance;
to reach the bower whereupon we knelt.
And when I feel, fair creature of an hour!
That minutes might by Mercy’s kiss extend,
That I shall never look upon thee more,
I dig through cache of memory to find
Never have relish in the faery power
my cautions of the fiendish realm they end
Of unreflecting love!—then on the shore
with courage and sweet fortitude aligned.
Of the wide world I stand alone, and think
Incapable the darkness to subside
Till Love and Fame to nothingness do sink.
while light upon these talents we abide.

© Elaine Stirling, 2013