It was not until his last year of study at the Adelaide Boys’ High School that Pop-Star discovered a love for the English language. He was always a “steady” rather than a “bright” student; until then it was the science subjects, Physics and Chemistry where he gained his best results.
His ambition was to study Medicine, and at that time Latin was a prerequisite for entry to the School of Medicine in South Australia. In his earlier years English, and particularly English poetry had seemed incomprehensible and as lacking in interest and relevance as the study of Latin. English was just another discipline in which Pop-Star had to become proficient.
Pop-Star never fully mastered all grammatical detail, or understood the various structures of poetical expression. Even spelling errors crept into his literary efforts. He never really became as fluent as he would have liked in his writing and in his speech. He did however come to love carefully chosen words and to appreciate the human emotions they expressed.
The poet who most impressed the young Pop-Star was John Keats. You may be surprised to learn that he had no formal literary education. In fact he trained at Guy’s Hospital in London as a surgeon only to die at just 25, of pulmonary tuberculosis. In a few short years, in spite of his illness, he managed to write 54 poems that have brought him the fame and acclaim that he feared he would never achieve. His poem “When I have fears that I may cease to be” expressed this, together with a deeper regret on the loss of experiences of beauty and love, as they faded into insignificance, with his declining health.
When I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has gleaned 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 shall 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.
Pop-Star liked his euphemism for death. “when I may cease to be”.
In our youth, we fear and dread death and shun even its mention.
Age softens our attitude to death, from a topic not to be discussed, to acceptance, and eventually to an event to be welcomed, and planned for.
Indeed it may be that it is “Life’s Last Adventure”