Summary and Analysis of Keats’s Sonnet, On Fame

Summary and Analysis of Keats's Sonnet, On Fame

Summary and Analysis of Keats’s Sonnet, On Fame

John Keats’ beautiful sonnet, On Fame refers to the
contrast between the benevolent and graceful world of Nature and the pent up
world of man vexed with the incessant pursuit of materialistic recognition and

Very artistically, the poet has used a few imageries from
nature to describe the condition of human being. A rose, the queen of all
flowers has its sweet fragrance and magnificent beauty even though it lives on
thorny places. The caress of gentle breeze and sucking honey of the wasp make it
feel gratified. Our life would be beautiful if we dedicate our life for the
service of others, by shaking off our false craving for reputation. But it
loses all its beauty if it is plucked from the bunch. So things are quite good
at their original place. Similarly, a ripe palm loses its ripeness and
roundness if it is taken from the tree. A lake enjoys it crystal water unless
it is disturbed by the dark hand of Naiad, a water nymph. So far, the hard
touch of worries and anxieties makes our life charmless, colourless and
tasteless. The poem ends with a bold interrogative message why some narrow
miscreants spoil their life in such a way.  Above all man should learn from Nature the true
ways of attaining ultimate happiness and fulfillment and give up his narrow

Keats’ poem “On Fame”, Keats mentions fame, and compares it to a woman.  He also compares people’s want for fame to a
man’s lust for a woman.  Keats’ begins by
saying Fame is like a shy girl, and will be hesitant to follow those who try
too hard to attract her attention; but will succumb to the humble boy who
doesn’t try to “woo her with too slavish knees.”  Keats goes on to compare fame and popularity
to a woman who doesn’t settle, a “Gipsey.” 
The men who shame her for not pursuing them, and become spiteful of the
woman, are compared to people who are all too concerned with their social

Instinctively, man is always hankering after name and fame.
He is never satisfied with worldly desire. The more he gets, the more his
hunger increases. The thought of getting something more makes him restless. He becomes
money and fame minded. He starts judging everything even the sweetest
relationship in terms of money. That is the reason why he leads his life
through the vast passage of worries and tensions. But man’s life in this
mundane world is too short. In search of glory he cannot taste his blissful existence
with exuberance of joy and happiness. He cannot drink life to the lees. At the
end of his life’s journey he can realize that all his efforts to earn name and
fame become vain and futile. Most importantly, we have to keep in mind that “Our
paths of glory leads but to death.” 

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