Keats Formerly Last Poem For


Keats Formerly Last Poem

For nearly 100 years the following poem was thought to be Keats's last. No longer so (though I do not know what is the last). This sonnet certainly foretells an early death. In addition it is a lovely love poem.

Bright Star, Would I were Steadfast as Thou Art 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.

A bit of a guide. An "Eremite" is a hermit. Note the second line of the octet has its response in the first line of the sestet. Keats wishes to be akin to the star in its steadfast illumination but not a lone and distant observer (first two lines). I leave it to you to conclude what it is he does desire.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on November 12, 2002 3:18 AM.

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