John Keats

Bright Star

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 stedfast, still unchangeable,
Pillow'd upon my fair love's ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft swell and fall,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever – or else swoon to death.

Begun in 1818, published 17 years after Keats's death
in The Plymouth and Devonport Weekly Journal, 1838


Keats may have written this for Fanny Brawne, with whom he carried on a touching flirtation near the end of his life. For a sweet cinematic version of this, see the movie Bright Star.

Ambrotype of Fanny Brawne
taken circa 1850 (photograph on glass)
from Wikipedia

Keats: To Autumn    home    library    Keats: Ode to a Nightingale

posted 27 December 2010