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Updated October 13, 2020

Romanticism: Poem by John Keats “Bright Star”

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Romanticism: Poem by John Keats “Bright Star” essay
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Romanticism refers to a period in history beginning in 1780s, either with the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789, or with the publication of Wordsworth’s and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads in 1789 and ending in the 1830s. Romanticism is the movement/ historical period (Baldick, C. 2008). ” Romanticism is one of the most important historical events of all times.

Unlike a lot of what is called ‘history’, Romanticism is not a war piece of technology or a political event. It refers to the birth of new set of ideas, it is about a mindset and a way of feeling” (SchoolOfLife.com). Romanticism is a reaction against The Industrial Revolution and the enlightenment/ Age of Reason. Romantics call for a return to Nature.

The essay is touching on the poem by John Keats ‘Bright Star’. It will outline briefly what the poem is about and display how this relates to Romanticism or Romantic ideals thus evaluating to what extent these ideas are relevant to us today.

This is a sonnet, presumably written to Keats’ fiancé, Fanny Brawne. The poem is in part about this awareness that the poet will die at a young age since he was infected with tuberculosis. The poem ‘Bright Star’ conveys mainly two themes. The first one is that the sonnet reflects on the discontinuity between man and nature, as well as longing for human relationships or recognition, this is evident in the first line. There is a tension between what is ‘still steadfast, still unchangeable’ and the restlessness of romantic passion.

The second theme the poet aspires to the fixed and ethereal beauty of the star, yet is aware of its limitations, though bright, steadfast and splendid, it is at the same time solitary and non-human. The poem is about the physicality of being with someone or desire to be with them.

In conformity with Romanticisms characteristics it expresses emotions, also nature is seen as a source of wisdom and divine, also through Imagination the poet had the power to reunite man with nature and the divine and so offer salvation to the individual and society at large. Romanticism also touches on the beauty in poetry, the singing line, the easily intelligible utterance, the ample and unqualified emotion.

‘Bright star! Would I were steadfast as thou art’ (Keats.J, 1795-1821), the poet personifies the star, he wishes that he was a constant and fixed as a bright star in the night sky since the stars are unchanging and constant. The poet wants his love and emotional state to be like that, unshakeable just as the star.

The poet points out the star’s isolation, as well as the positive quality, its splendour. This idea of separation contrasts with the poet relationship with his beloved later.

‘And watching with eternal lids apart’ (Keats.J, 1795-1821). The word lid refers to eyelids, the stars isolation is implicit in its watching and it never sleeps. There is also a lack of motion in these lines. The word ‘eremite’ in line 4 refers to a religious recluse, hermit. This emphasizes the stars sleeplessness is part of the characterisation of the stars non-humanness, which makes it an impossible goal for a human being to aspire to but the poet aspired to it nonetheless.

Despite these positive associations, although the star may be unchangingly lovely it has a ‘lone splendour’. Likening it to an ‘Eremite’ emphasises the sense of the star’s removal from the tangible world of humanity. Although attentive, its beneficent oversight of the world is ultimately passive. By contrast, the poet wants to be fully in contact with the beloved over whom he watches.

‘Pillow’d’ conveys the sense of sinking down within the ‘fall and swell’ of his girlfriend’s bosoms. However, both the star and the poet share an inability to sleep – the star because of her role as the world’s overseer; the poet because he is in a state of erotic ‘sweet unrest’ (John Keats).

The last 4 lines uses ‘ever’ emphasizing steadfastness eternity, but it is an eternity of love because of its position as the last word in the poem and because of being an accent syllable. ‘Death’ carries a great deal of weight in the final effect and meaning of the poem.

Romanticism: Poem by John Keats “Bright Star” essay

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Romanticism: Poem by John Keats “Bright Star”. (2020, Sep 26). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/romanticism-poem-by-john-keats-bright-star/

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