“Bright star! would I were steadfast as thou art”
John Keats

Bright star! would I were steadfast 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 steadfast, 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 swoonto death.

How is this poem an example of Romanticism? (Answer is well developed paragraphs with specific examples.)
Throughout this poem, Keats uses the nature of a star and portrays its majestic authority. From a Romantic viewpoint, nature is seen as a symbol. Here, Keats is using romanticism to display the unchanging qualities of a star. The star is "steadfast" and "watching, with eternal lids apart," forever "unchangeable." Keats wants to emphasize the majestic characteristics of a bright star and compare them to mortal humans. A star has authority because it can always gaze down to the earth. It has the ability to see the whole earth and observe what is happening there. This idea emphasizes the stars majesty and authority over the earth. Also, a star is never changing. While humans are constantly adapting and altering their lives, a star is fixed in its place, "steadfast." The image of an unchanging star brings connotation of immortality to the reader. The star is elevated above humans and seen as a symbol of majestic authority.
The poem is also an example of romanticism because of the imaginative language and images portrayed. Romantics considered imagination to be the minds greatest power. In the speaker is mentioning what his life would be like if he was a star hung over the world watching with, “eternal lids apart”(3). The speaker knows that becoming a star is impossible, but he still is imagining with great detail what his life would be life if he were one. The speaker uses the line, “would I were as steadfast as art thou” (1) to show that he’s speaking upon an imaginary thought he’s having.

How is this poem an example of an ode and lyric poem? (Answer in a bulleted list.)
  • complex stanzas.
  • serious and thoughtful.
  • highly stylized language.
  • glorifies and praises a subject matter. (star)
  • nature scene provokes an extened meditation with a personal or universal topic.
  • ending ties to a pervious thought, but with deeper understanding.
  • there is 1 speaker
  • Use of an imaginary thought the speaker has.
  • The speaker is expressing a personal thought or feeling
  • The poem has a lyrical or musical quality to it when read aloud.

What have you learned about Keats that helps you understand this poem in a new way? (Be sure to use the school's databases and cite your information. Answers need to be in well-developed paragraphs.)
During Keats life many people close to him died. His father, mother died when he was young leaving him orphaned with his younger brother Tom, who also died later in life. Keats was very familiar with death and the mortality of human beings. He realized how quickly a human life can alter. A single accident in his father’s life caused his father to die. Both Keats mother and brother lost their lives to tuberculosis which Keats himself also suffered from. In the poem Bright Star Keats is praising the stars’ ability to be untouched and unchanged. He compares the mortal human life to the very steady life of a star. Keats wants his reader to recognize that their life is not guaranteed or forever. He does this through contrast and by comparing a permanent star to an temporary human life.


What are some of the purposes of this poem? Why did Keats write it in the first place? (Answers should be in bulleted lists, allowing others to "run" with their own ideas.)
  • To glorify nature
  • emphasize the mortality of humans
  • to earn money
  • contrast humans short life to the long life of a star
  • to show the admiration one has for his significant other when they are in love
  • to show the feeling of never being good enough
  • To express his imagination and personal thoughts
  • To prove that being human is sufficent because of the ability to love a woman.
  • To show that we should reconsider wanting to be something that appeals to us more than what we are

first published 1838 (see note concerning the date of publication)