Bright Star by John Keats

Bright star, would I were steadfast as thou art—

   Not in lone splendor 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 steadfast, still unchangeable,

   Pillowed upon my fair love’s ripening breast,

To feel forever its soft fall and swell,

   Awake forever in a sweet unrest,

Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,

And so live ever—or else swoon to death.


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We went over the poem in my 2850 Lit class. I like to think that Keats’s poem is an ode to his love and appreciation for the natural world. As a human, he can only appreciate nature for as long as he is living on this earth but he knows that before he was there, and after he is gone, the earth has and will continue to be there in all its glory. I believe that the “ripening breast” he refers to belongs to Mother Nature who he is in love with, and not a physical woman. He gazes upon the the star with jealous because the star, unlike him, lives forever and if he could be that star, he could love Mother Nature to no end and without having to experience the pain of losing her at death.   Comment by Jason Mei — March 13, 2011 @ 2:38 pm


This poem is an excellent read but the thing that I appreciate most about it, is how it shows the powerful connection between imagery and poetry. John Keats is a poet that uses personification and abstraction in a way that brings the reader these life-like images that tantalize the mind. The poem “Star Bright” above is just another example of his great work as it simulates the sense to picture this beautiful shining star just hover above the ocean. Just his mention of “the moving waters at their priest like task” creates such a powerful imagery. These images build up in your mind as you read the poem and with each acquired piece complete the scene. In this scene, Keats’s jealousy of nature is exemplified with his statement, “Pillowed upon my fair love’s ripening breast, to feel forever its soft fall and swell”. Reflecting on this poem his shows me that the weaving together of words, which create wonderful phantasmagorias, is what makes poetry such a beautiful art.   Comment by Joel R. Mcaulay — March 13, 2011 @ 3:38 pm

While Keats does gaze upon the star with envy, that envy in the second half of the poem surpasses. He begins to realize that though the star is “steadfast” he is as well however in a diverse way. While the star will forever endure, he will forever love and admire the world around him and, moist importantly, his lover whom is represented by the “ripening breast”. Said tp have been written to Fanny Brawne and during the time befor ehis death when he was aware of his fast approaching demise, Keats writes on the beauty of being able to experience love and how its joy surpasses that of living forever. The last line “and so live-ever or swoon to death” represent his embracing of death and rejection of the stars qualities. He is content dying with the love of his woman upon him.   Comment by Sofia Mogliazzi — March 13, 2011 @ 3:48 pm

sorry for all the typos :p  Comment by Sofia Mogliazzi — March 13, 2011 @ 3:49 pm

John Keat’s “Bright Star” is a visionary poem of how the world rotates at night, below the stars, as we humans live our lives and never notice the beautiful things of life. “The moving waters at their priestlike task / Of pure ablution round earth’s human shores”(Lines 5-6) this part of the poem expresses John Keat’s observation of how the world slowly moves at night, and how peaceful and quiet it is. There is also a mention of Death, and how it follows the reader’s life at night. “Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath / And so live ever-or else swoon to death” (Lines 13-14) these last two lines of the poem concludes that the reader’s lover is dead as the reader walks around at night under the bright stars.  Comment by Daniel Gonzalez — March 13, 2011 @ 3:53 pm

My interpretation of Keats’ “Bright Star” is a bit different than what has already been stated. In fact, I believe the “bright star” is used to symbolize himself a man infatuated with a woman. When he uses nature in the first half of the poem, I view it as his association of a woman’s beauty that is untouchable. Towards the end he describes actually being with the woman, and enjoying her company, in contrast to the lone star. In the last two lines “Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath, And so live ever—or else swoon to death.” When her breath is “tender taken” (or when she dies) he now will return to his admiration of her as the “bright star” and “live ever” or would gladly “swoon to death” to join her in an afterlife.  Comment by Betty Pabon — March 13, 2011 @ 4:20 pm

First, this poem and the imagery Keats uses is amazing. I love it! When I first read it I was only focused on his envy of the night; his envy for the lone star and the peace the night expresses. I felt like he yearned to be the star just so he can be at peace and admire all of the Earth’s beauty. Once I reread it a couple of times I thought maybe he was describing himself as the lone star watching over the earth; Maybe he was already in peace like the night was. He clearly expresses a love and admiration for a woman so he can be describing her as nature in the first half of the poem. He uses personification to describe what the lone star must feel for nature and compares it to what he feels for his lover. the 9th line “No—yet still steadfast, still unchangeable,” is him saying him and the star are one in the same. Its beautiful.  Comment by Crystal Martinez — March 13, 2011 @ 5:49 pm

Keats’ “Bright Star” is a beautiful poem. The way I perceive the poem is into two different context. First comes nature. In the first half of the poem all we read about is nature. Nature is seen from the eyes of a distant star. The star describes the unchangeable, beautiful nature starting from rivers to mountains covered in snow. Than the poet moves on to his lover. He describes a woman lying down in bed and slowly breathing. The poet accompanied by the star admires her peaceful sleep. The poet contrasts how the nature is unchangeable and immortal. It is always going to be there, beautiful as it is, for the star to look at her. But on the other hand is lover is mortal. She is going to die soon and her breath will slowly fade away. When this happens, Keats wants to die as well. He doesn’t want immortality if there is nobody next to him. He longs for this connection with his lover and seems to feel bad for the star all alone, far deep in the sky.  Comment by Xhana Metaj — March 13, 2011 @ 9:40 pm

I love John Keats’s poem “bright star” because he expresses his feeling of immorality by the bright stars in the sky. We see the stars every night and they look like staying there forever. John Keat wants to be the stars, too and lives forever. I like the way he decribes the stars–”steadfast”, “unchangeable”. Everyone wants to keep himself or herself lives forever and enjoy the beautiful world, just like the bright stars in the sky. One the other hand, we can understand the poem that John Keat is expressing his love to a girl. He is trying to say his love to the girl is unchangeable, he will keep his promise and love her forever.  Comment by Hongjie Pan — March 13, 2011 @ 10:04 pm

Absolutely lovely. I really admire how Mr. Keats personifies a star and practically worships it for its ability to look upon the earth from such a magnificent distance. A distance that allows it to see all the worlds beauties and natural wonders. He mentions his “…fair love” who I believe represents mother nature. The start is constantly looking upon mother earth and its unchanging wonders and Keats admire that ability as if he where admiring another persons quality. Bravo! I love how much passion I found in this piece.  Lynette Garcia  Comment by Lynette Garcia — March 14, 2011 @ 1:18 pm

Before I get started I would like to say that John Keats was an amazing writer!

Many of us know that Keats was very much attracted to nature in his poems, life, death, love, etc all could be taken from the world around him. I agree with many on this blog, Keats was expressing his desire for freedom from temporary existence; the eternal life is what he truly wanted. However, I don’t think he wanted to embark on that journey without his heart’s deepest need and desire, his true love. I feel that the line “No—yet still steadfast, still unchangeable,” is a turning point in the poem. Throughout the beginning of the poem Keats speaks of nature and its beauty, as if it is a distraction from more important things, his lover. The “No-yet” is as if Keats is attempting to snap himself out of the trance placed upon him from nature, the pulling desire for immortality filled with the love he experienced. I feel that Keats was attempting to say much more here, as if he needed only one thing, eternal love isolated from the rest of the world, much like a bright star above the world! Keats was trying to tell the world a very important message, no aid is required from the world to help a relationship, one of true love, along but the complete and unbreakable bond of two lovers. The way Keats expressed his dying love and devotion is breathtaking, I love it!!!!  Comment by Katie Daniels — March 15, 2011 @ 7:39 am

This poem by John Keats is excellent because shows a great example of the struggle a man can face with an eternal love during his limited life. One such as the speaker can love something indefinitely but be unable to express this great love with due to the time constraints of his life. It can hurt more to have the ability to do something without the opportunity than it will to have the chance with out the ability. Especially if this is pertaining to something as strong as love! Keats uses an incredible word choice to convey this message in this short sonnet.  Comment by Divynne Howard — March 15, 2011 @ 9:33 pm

This is how i feel in the morning after s..! He describes it in a most vivid way, but at the same time gives us something to which we could relate. His imagery and the way he approaches the apex of his point is brilliant. By the time we read the apex, we already tender with excitement about the memory it raised in some of our minds. J.K. is the man.  Comment by Tadas Valiukenas — March 28, 2011 @ 11:50 am

Bright Star, by John Keats, has a very bitter sweet tone. It sounds so beautiful when read aloud. Its like his heart is torn between wanting to be like the unchanging bright star and also wanting to be with his lover. In the first half of the poem, I think Keats clearly shows his desire to be like the star – “Bright star, would I were steadfast as thou art.”He loves how the star is able to look down at the earth beauty for eternity and he envies it for that – 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—steadfast as thou art.” However, Keats also knowledges the consequences that comes with being eternal when he says the star is lonely. It does not matter how splendid the star may be, it is nothing if Keats does not have his lover by his side. That is why I believe the poem has a turning point – “No—yet still steadfast, still unchangeable, Pillowed upon my fair love’s ripening breast, To feel forever its soft fall and swell…” Keats speaks of wanting to be with his lover forever but he knows it is impossible. He knows that he can never be steadfast and unchanging like the star so in the end, I feel like Keats realizes that the love he feels for his lover is eternal. Therefore, Keats accepts the thought of dying in a more positive way, indicating he would “swoon to death.”  Comment by Carolina Perez — March 29, 2011 @ 9:12 pm

I believe that Keats’ “Bright Star” is blatantly split into two different themes. My favorite part about this poem, however, isn’t regarding its context, but rather, its form. Keats uses visual tools in order to direct the reader. It is very obvious that Keats has divided the poem into two parts: the first being lines 1 through 8, and the second being lines 9 through 14. He clearly divides the poem by not only reusing the word ‘steadfast’ which sticks out to the reader, but also by using visual techniques to further express the idea that the poem is split into two parts. Keats ends line one using a dash (-), and also ends line 8 with another dash. This visual tool allows the reader to make a separation between the two parts of the poem. If we look between lines 1 through 8 we can see the theme of independence being expressed. Alternately, if we look between lines 8 and 14 we can see the theme of love being expressed. The poem is interesting in its context, but also, as you can see, in its form.  Comment by Ben Pare — March 30, 2011 @ 12:09 pm

The poem shows Keats love for both nature and a mysterious women. He seems torn about which one means more to him. His use of oxymorons shows his true uncertainty throughout the entire poem. On the last line, the phrase “swoon to death” shows the reader just how tough of a decision that Keats finds it to be.  Comment by Steven Greenberg — March 31, 2011 @ 3:18 pm

In his poem “Bright Star,” John Keats describes mentions love, nature and death. He describes a star that is steadfast. He describes nature as being patient and “sleepless Eremite”. He mentions a love for a woman and that he will either die or live by her. It seems like he is talking about eternity and his desire or love for nature or this lady. I think that this poem is beautiful to read and listen to. In my opinion, it has a peaceful tone of watching nature although it also mentions death.

Comment by Rabia Ari — April 13, 2011 @ 4:32 pm