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Bright Star Summary,Analysis, Explanation

Bright Star Summary,Analysis, Explanation

 

1. A General Note (Occasion, Date of Composition, etc)

This is supposed to be the last poem of Keats and complimented well as ‘the last word of a youth, in whom, if the fulfilment may ever safely be prophesied from the promise, England lost one of the most rarely gifted in the long roll of her poets’.

The poem was possibly written after landing on the Dorset coast at the beginning of the poet’s voyage to Italy, in Autumn, 1820. It is said that the drooping heart of the ailing poet was inspirited at the sight of the scenic beauty of the place and that might have inspired the composition of the poem.

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Two more factors need be noted about the poem. First, this is a romantic lovelyric. Second, this is a sonnet, no doubt of the Shakespearean type.

2. Substance

 The poet addresses the pole star, brightly and steadily shining high in the sky. He longs for its constancy, but not for its lone splendour. He refers to the task of the star to watch, like Nature’s hermit, the rolling waves of the ocean, cleansing the shores of earth. The star watches, too, how softly snow falls and covers mountains and moors.

The poet, on the other hand, wishes to be steady and constant in his enjoyment of love. He seeks to lie on the breast of his lady love and to feel the gentle rise and fall of her heaving breast. All that he wishes is either to remain for ever in such an enjoyable posture or to have his last breath quietly.

3. Analysis

I. The poet addresses the bright star and wishes to be as constant as this. But he does not want to shine from its high station brightly and solitarily. (What he implies is that he wants constancy not in loneliness but in the company of his lady love.)

The poet mentions how the bright star watches incessantly, like the mountains of Nature, that stand ever in the posture of ever meditative hermits.

The poet goes to point out what does the bright star constantly watch from its bright and lofty seclusion. First, it watches how the water moves round the shores of human habitation to cleanse and purify these by the flows of water. Second, it gazes how snow softly falls and covers mountains and moors. (First two quatrains)

II. The poet does not desire any such lonely state of the bright star. Yet, he desires to lie, as steadily and changelessly on the maturing breast of his ladylove. He seeks to perceive, in that posture, the rise and fall of her breast, to count her breathing gently and to drowse and to wake up in a stir of excitement. The poet romantically craves for living in such a state or dying in her close embrace. (Third quatrain and the Concluding couplet)

4. Title

The sonnet is titled as ‘Bright Star! would I were steadfast as thou art. This is

actually the first line of the sonnet, but it conveys much of the poet’s idea contained herein.

In fact, through the imagery of the bright star, constantly shinning in the sky, the poet expresses his own craving for the constant companionship of the star.

The poet wishes to have the constancy of the star in his loving attatchment to his ladylove, but he has no liking for its lonely splendour. He wants to be constant in companionship, and not in isolation.

As the lyric begins with the line ‘Bright star…..thou art, the selection of this as the very title does not seem much improper.

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