Representative Poetry Online
  Poet Index   Poem Index   Random   Search  
  Introduction   Timeline   Calendar   Glossary   Criticism   Bibliography  
  RPO   Canadian Poetry   UTEL  
by Name
by Date
by Title
by First Line
by Last Line
Short poem

John Keats (1795-1821)

Bright Star, Would I were Steadfast as Thou Art

              1Bright star, would I were stedfast as thou art--
              2      Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night
              3And watching, with eternal lids apart,
              4      Like nature's patient, sleepless Eremite,
              5The moving waters at their priestlike task
              6      Of pure ablution round earth's human shores,
              7Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask
              8      Of snow upon the mountains and the moors--
              9No--yet still stedfast, still unchangeable,
            10      Pillow'd upon my fair love's ripening breast,
            11To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
            12      Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
            13Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
            14And so live ever--or else swoon to death.


1] First published in a Plymouth newspaper (1838). Copied by Keats into Severn's copy of Shakespeare's Poems, facing "A Lover's Complaint." September 28, 1820. For almost a century this sonnet was generally believed to be Keats's last poem; it now seems fairly certain that it was written not later than April, 1819, perhaps in February.

Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: Richard Monckton Milnes, Life, Letters and Literary Remains of John Keats (New York: Putnam, 1848). PR 4836 A4 1848 ROBA
First publication date: 1848
Publication date note: First published in a Plymouth newspaper (1838).
RPO poem editor: J. R. MacGillivray
RP edition: 3RP 2.645.
Recent editing: 4:2001/12/17*2:2001/12/17

Composition date: 1819
Form: English Sonnet
Rhyme: ababcdcdefefgg

Other poems by John Keats