On one of Keats’s finest sonnets
‘Bright Star’, or ‘Bright star! Would I were steadfast as thou art’ as it is sometimes known, is probably the most famous sonnet written by the Romantic poet John Keats (1795-1821). He wrote it in 1819 originally, although he revised it a year later. When he wrote ‘Bright Star’, Keats knew that he was dying from consumption or tuberculosis, and the poem is in part about this awareness that he will die young.
Bright star, would I were stedfast 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 fall and swell,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest, Read the rest of this entry
On one of Keats’s less famous poems about unrequited love
‘O love me truly!’ as a poetic refrain is likely to inspire disgust at the poet’s desperation rather than sympathy, but then desperation can be dangerously close to despair, and John Keats (1795-1821) knew better than most what it felt like to experience the pain of hopeless love. In his short and little-known poem ‘You Say You Love’, Keats addresses a woman who doesn’t return his love.
You say you love; but with a voice
Chaster than a nun’s, who singeth
The soft Vespers to herself
While the chime-bell ringeth –
O love me truly!
You say you love; but with a smile
Cold as sunrise in September, Read the rest of this entry
The best poems by Keats
John Keats (1795-1821) died when he was just twenty-five years old, but he left behind a substantial body of work, considering he died so young. Nevertheless, a number of his poems immediately suggest themselves as being among the ‘best’ of his work. In this post, we’ve selected what we think are the top ten best Keats poems.
‘Ode to Psyche’. The earliest of Keats’s 1819 odes, ‘Ode to Psyche’ is about the Greek embodiment of the soul and mind, Psyche. Keats declares that he will be Psyche’s ‘priest’ and build a temple to her in his mind. Although this is probably the least-admired of Keats’s classic odes (though ‘Ode on Indolence’ would rival it), it’s a fine paean to poetic creativity and the power of the imagination. Read the rest of this entry