POETIC BLOOMINGS READING ROOM # 64 – “BRIGHT STAR, WOULD I WERE STEDFAST AS THOU ART”

John Keats (1795 – 1821)

John Keats was an English poet prominent in the second wave of Romantic poets, with Byron and Shelley, his poems were only in publication for four years before he died at the age of 25. His poetry had been criticized in his brief lifetime, yet his fame grew after his death. He had earned his place in the canon of English literature, serving as the inspiration and a strong influence on many writers. One poet called his first encounter with Keats’s work an experience that reflected his life. Keats’ style was “heavily loaded with sensual innuendo”, most noticed in the series of odes. As with most of the Romantics, he accentuated extreme emotion through a strong use of natural imagery.

 “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.