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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.

Notes

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