In order to truly understand the genius behind Keats’ work, it is important to first understand how he began his writing career. His life began in Mortgage, London, England on the 31st of October in 1795. The oldest of four children, he “was born to keepers of a London livery stable” that sadly, both died during his younger years (Holder 559). He had, what many would identify as, “little to no advantages” in life, advantages that would help bring out his poetic ingeniousness, and all of these disadvantages started with him having to overcome these early tragic deaths (559-560).
At the age of eight, Keats’ father was killed in a horse accident. Only a few years later, his mother was killed as well, however, the details surrounding her death are not as clear, but many assume that it was from complications of Tuberculosis (560). Following the death of his mother, Keats grandmother “appointed two London merchants, Richard Abbey and John Rowland Sandals as guardians” (561). Abbey took a majority of the responsibility. Abbey withdrew Keats from the school at which he was attending, Enfield, and started his training with an “apothecary-surgeon” (Clarke 1).
Although this is quite efferent than the path that one would expect from the writer of Bright Star, Keats went on to gain his certificate in 1816 and would soon discover his true love for writing was waiting Just around the corner (1). Leading into his great career, Keats met a man named Leigh Hunt, the editor of The Examiner, who published some of Keats sonnets. “Hunt also introduced Keats to a circle of literary men, including the poets Percy Byes Shelley and William Wordsmith. (Clarke 1) These inspiring people influenced Keats to write his first set of poems with the name of Poems by John Keats and it was published in the year 817 (1). The poems received much criticism but “Skate’s literary merit prevailed”. In 1818, Keats finally finished his epic of poems that was a compilation of four books (Merrimac 1). He soon took on the task of caring for his brother who was suffering from tuberculosis. While tending to his brothers health, he met a unique woman who he would soon fall in love with (Clarke 1).
Frances, “Fanny’, Brawny was the name of the woman, and shortly after they were already engaged (Merrimac 1). Soon after he fell in love with Fanny, in the years of 1818 and 1819, he wrote some of his greatest otter (Clarke 1). “He wrote one of his more famous sonnets to her titled “Bright Star, would I were steadfast as thou art” (Merrimac 1). Keats then continued to work on “Hyperfine” until the death of his brother which caused him to stop working. In 1819, he picked up his last piece and rewrote it as “The Fall of Hyperfine” (Clarke 1).
In, “that same autumn Keats contracted tuberculosis, and by the following February he felt that death was already upon him, referring to the present as his “posthumous existence”” (1). Keats then became very sickly and in 1820 published his next volume of poetry. Next he ventured to Rome with a painter named Joseph Severe. While enjoying his endeavors in Rome, he fell into a great depression and refused to read or write to Fanny because he believed that it would cause them both too much pain (Merrimac 1). One of the greatest Romantic Era poets died that cold winter night on February 3rd 1821 (1).
His poems reflect many things such as the pain and problem that he endured in his short years and “ultimately his own physical and spiritual suffering in love and illness” (1). Keats’ poetry took a turn in a new direction toward the middle of his short life. One poem that exemplifies this specific change is Bright Star. “His Earlier poems are more concerned with self-consciousness and personal matter but his later work, such as Bright Star! Would I Were Steadfast as Thou Art, include a more harmonious acceptance of nature for what it is, beyond the self interpretation of it” (Gale 45).
One can only truly understand the underlying mean of Bright Star if they simply knew about Keats’ undying love for Fanny. “Romantic poet, John Skate’s love for Fanny Brawny inspired some of the most beautiful love letters ever written. ” (Champion 6). The poem Bright Star is inspired by Fanny Brawn the love of Keats. In this sonnet one can see Keats as the narrator as he compares himself to the star (Gale 45). There is no clear setting described in this poem. “Bright Star is a sonnet… Characterized by its length of fourteen lines and its use of a set rhyme scheme…
The rhyme scheme is that of the Shakespearean form-three quatrains rhyming ABA CDC beef, followed by a couplet rhyming g, its thematic division most clearly follows the Patriarchate model” (47). This poem can be broken down by stanza to understand the underlying meaning. In this poem he takes on hat has been classified as “one of the most resplendent images in the whole work Keats” (Croft 144). Starting from the beginning Keats uses strong imagery towards t star (144). He describes the star as being alone and staring down at the earth (144).
He identifies himself with the star but he then he goes on to add how he differs fro the star (144). He gives details on how, The star is alone and he is with Fanny but like the star he longs to be: “… Still steadfast, still unchangeable. ” (line 9) At the end of the poem Skate’s focus shifts from the universal image of the star to the personal image f himself with his head – “Pillowed upon my fair love’s ripening breast. ” (line 10) Both images create a sense of tranquility and, in using the image of the star, he elevates the concept of his relationship with Fanny to the level of the eternal transcending the commonplace. 144) Most poets often used imagery in their poem to get the reader to feel as if they can imagine it. This poem uses “various emotions which are expressed by the use of variety of techniques including metaphors, simile and onomatopoeia” (Types-of-poetry ). Within the first couple of lines we see imagery ND personification. He uses imagery in describing the star and personification by giving the star human characteristics such as “sleepless”, “patient”, and “aloft” (Gale 44). Also, Keats tends to use symbolism in his writing. In lines five through eight, he uses symbolism in “suggesting the idea of pureness” (Gale 45).
There are two symbol shown throughout the poem, the first is the “moving waters” (45). The waters have a sort of “spiritual significance, their “ablution” suggesting religious purification” (45). The second symbol that appears is the depiction of the snow. The way that Keats mages these two symbols shows that he is sort of identifying himself with the “things that can, in some sense, make humans pure or spiritual” (45). Poetry for students states, “Perhaps he feels this to be a way to transcend the limitations of human life- the changes and eventual decay that result in death” (45).
Within the lines nine through fourteen, the narrator switches form the stars own existence to the existence of his own (46). Keats uses more imagery to emphasize this. He also compares himself to the star, “wishing for something the star does not have: steadfastness thou solitude” (46). Although he wants to be “still unchangeable” like the star, he still wishes for eternity with his love (Gale 46). “His loves breast” in the poem is a symbol of fertility (46). A paradox is created because “while fertility is the organic basis of life, the star’s steadfastness is “aloft” or far above such this process. (46). Keats is wishing for something impossible in this poem. He wishes to be like the star but at the same time he describes his desire to be eternally human (46). The speaker of the poem “can live in sensual experience of love, which, because it is a hardhearted by the slipping away of apparent time, seems to be “for ever” Failing that, the speaker hopes he might “swoon to death” at the moment of purest happiness” (46). His love for Fanny is shown throughout his last poems before his death. In my opinion Keats was very successful in all of his writings, especially in Bright Star.
I believe that he wanted to express his true feelings for Fanny. He did so by incorporating all of his wonderful tactics to make the poem strong and well built. He then placed himself into the poem and thought of things in ways that others would not. Keats’ brilliance has been shown throughout all of his poetry. Bright Star was written proof that Fanny was Keats’ one and only. He uses many ways to emphasize the meaning of Bright Star. For example he uses figurative language to help make the poem flow more easily and bring out its uniqueness.
In most of his poems he uses a great amount of figurative language. In Bright Star every stanza uses complex structures to traumatized the poem. Also, the overall strength of each stanza brings out the well-built tone of this poem. In this poem Keats uses alliteration, imagery, personification, oxymoron, and repetition. Breaking down Keats’ poem by each stanza reveals that by the end of the poem he understands his wish cannot be true. In the beginning of the poem Keats expresses how he desires to be as steadfast as a star.
But by the end he realized this cannot be achieved by a human because the world is constantly changing. The steadfastness of the star is emphasized in the beginning lines. Keats desires to be like this star but in lines two through eight it is shown that he is nothing like the star. The star is alone and cannot live in the beauty of the earth. Keats goes on to define his terms of steadfastness in a world unlike the stars. By the end of the poem he is content with the way things are. Bright Star is a well thought out poem. If I was given the change anything in this poem I would not change one thing.
This poem is well thought out and structured great. Keats’ way of writing is fantastic. He defines things in ways others would not see things as. This poem should be celebrated and learned in class because it is a good example of romantic poetry. The language and the connotation of each stanza are so strong that the poems meaning is greatly emphasized. Although the poem might hard to understand at first, if taught in classrooms children could break down ND comprehend the poem. Also, when kids are taught about figurative language Keats’ poem should be used as a prime example.
Overall John Keats had a short life but contributed a lot to our world of literacy. Although Keats’ did not start his career as a poet it is miracle that he could switch to the career he wanted and be amazing at it. Many of Keats poems have been called some of the greatest poems of time and I believe Bright Star is one of them. Keats didn’t Just love to write he also understood how to write and was very successful. He used a lot of figurative language and had well-built poems. He tended to write with complex thoughts.