Bright Star, Would I Were Stedfast as Thou Art

Bright Star, Would I Were Stedfast as Thou Art

by John Keats

Bright star, would I were stedfast as thou art—
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
Like nature’s patient, sleepless Eremite,
The moving waters at their priestlike task
Of pure ablution round earth’s human shores,
Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask
Of snow upon the mountains and the moors—
No—yet still stedfast, still unchangeable,
Pillow’d upon my fair love’s ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever—or else swoon to death.

Summary of Bright Star, Would I Were Stedfast as Thou Art

  •  Popularity of “Bright Star, Would I Were Stedfast as Thou Art”: This poem is also known as ‘Bright Star, Would I Were Steadfast as Thou Art’. It is one of the best and famous written sonnets by John Keats, a popular English poet. It is favorite on account of its theme of natural beauty. It was first published in 1838. The poem captures the magnificent beauty of nature, its creation, and love. A few scholars also assume that the sonnet is addressed to ‘Polaris, a North Star’. It also gives an insight into the speaker’s desire to be eternal like the star he adores.
  • “Bright Star, Would I Were Steadfast as Thou Art” As a Representative of Love: As this poem is about the beautiful star, the speaker directly addresses the star and wishes to remain steadfast like it. He adores its unchangeable quality and desires to attain that quality. However, he soon realizes that the star is isolated from the rest of the world and can only observe life and the beauty of nature but cannot experience it. Also, it will never taste the fruits of love. Therefore, he decides to remain steadfast and immutable in his love like that star but not in isolation. He wants to live forever with his love. He believes that death is better than having to live without his love. What stays in the minds of the readers is the metaphorical comparison he draws to show his pure love for his beloved.
  • Major Themes in “Bright Star, Would I Were Steadfast as Thou Art”: Love, isolation and natural beauty are the major themes of this poem. The speaker observes certain qualities of the bright star and wants to adopt them. He discusses two things in the poem – the steadfastness of the star and its isolation. Thus, he wishes to be eternal with his beloved like the star but refuses to live a lonely life. He wants to stay close with his beloved.

Analysis of Literary Devices in “Bright Star, Would I Were Steadfast as Thou Art”

Literary devices are tools that the writers use to shape their ideas and emotions. Their usage makes the text captivating and opens it up to multiple interpretations. Keats has also used some literary devices in this poem to explain his ideas of pure love. The analysis of some of the literary devices used in this poem has been stated below.

  • Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line such as the sound of /a/ in “Like nature’s patient, sleepless Eremite” and the sound of /e/ in “No—yet still steadfast, still unchangeable.”
  • Symbolism: Symbolism is the use of symbols to signify ideas and qualities by giving them symbolic meanings different from their literal meanings. In the sonnet ‘Star’ symbolizes desire.
  • Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line such as the sound of /l/ in “To feel for ever its soft fall and swell” and the sound of /n/ in “Of snow upon the mountains and the moors.”
  • Simile: It is a figure of speech in which an object or a person is compared with something else to make the meanings clear to the readers. For example, “Bright star, would I were steadfast as thou art.” Here the poem is attempting to compare himself with the star.
  • Personification: Personification is to give human qualities to inanimate objects. For example, ‘And watching, with eternal lids apart’ as if the star is human that can perform certain actions.
  • Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. For example, “And watching, with eternal lids apart “; ” The moving waters at their priestlike task ” and ” Pillow’d upon my fair love’s ripening breast”.
  • Enjambment: It is defined as a thought or clause that does not come to an end at a line break; instead, it moves over the next line. For example,

Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask
Of snow upon the mountains and the moors—
No—yet still steadfast, still unchangeable.”

Analysis of Poetic Devices in “Bright Star, Would I Were Steadfast as Thou Art”

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is the analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.

  • Sonnet: A sonnet is a fourteen-line poem with a single idea float throughout the poem.
  • Quatrain: A quatrain is a four-lined stanza borrowed from Persian poetry. There are three quatrains in this poem.
  • Couplet: There are two constructive lines in a couplet, usually in the same meter and are joined by rhyme. This sonnet ends with a couplet, which generally reveals the central idea of the poem.
  • Rhyme Scheme: The poem follows the ABAB CDCD EFEF GG rhyme scheme.
  • End Rhyme: End rhyme is used to make the stanza melodious. For example, “art/apart”, “night/Eremite” and “task/mask.”

Quotes to be Used

The lines stated below can be used to describe the magnificent beauty of nature. This line can also be used to explain the power of nature.

“The moving waters at their priestlike task
Of pure ablution round earth’s human shores,
Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask
Of snow upon the mountains and the moors.”