The Meaning of "Bright Star"

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Postby Der » Fri Nov 03, 2006 4:48 am

Saturn wrote:Please... enough with trying to make put Keats was religious - its just plain wrong.]

You guys are reading your OWN religious beliefs into Keats' writings.

He I'm sure would be horrified at people tacking religious meanings to his work.

Its as ridiculous as putting Christian meaning into the work of the ancient Pagan authors, and equally erroneous.


Since this is my first post I will make it somewhat meaningful. I know I do not know much about poetry, but I do know people. If you have ever noticed people who do not believe in God or any other type of religion you would come to find 2 things. First, when they are beginning to get old they will become more religious as in maybe reading a little bit of the bible or believing in miracles and #2 they almost always before they die believe in God soon before they die because they want to be forgiven of all of their sins and be in a place that is wonderful outside of the real world which is heaven. The thought of even going to hell is not very "uplifting" to one who is going to die. For example, if you have ever seen Dead Man Walking , not saying this is the most reliable souce, but is a good example, Sean Penn, an accused Rapist and Murderer begins to follow the Christian faith with a Nun who visits him often. By the end of the movie he becomes a much better person knowing that God has forgiven his sins and he admits to his crimes. Knowing God has forgiven him helped him accept death better. Maybe this is why Keats decided to write religiously towards the countdown of his days... :?:
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Postby The Killing Light » Fri Nov 03, 2006 5:17 am

I have to admit that my first and foremost interpretation of this poem is the one which is described in the first message here. After seeing all of the evidence to contradict that interpretation, I have drawn different conclusions, but still, there is some logic existent in the idea. My favorite assessment of this poem so far is Black Fire's, as she notes upon the poem's compilation in Italy. ITALY (The cornerstone of Christianity). Romanticism also seems like it would be the most plausible theme, as there are not many other religious occurrences throughout Keats' other works. Yay Black Fire.

But I must protest to some other ideas that have been mentioned in this forum. One of the most prominent being the statement that we're inserting our own religious beliefs into this poem.

Not true.

...think about it.

The anonymity of the Internet disproves this in a heartbeat.

And most importantly: the curriculum of Hogwarts has nothing to do with religion. Whatsoever. At all. Erase that thought from your mind.

J.K. Rowling's addition into this little spat was entirely pointless in that sense, as she is in no way writing about personal values in witchcraft. It's poetic fantasy. Fantasy for entertainment's sake, and I'm sure many folks out there would appreciate the absence of negative connotation related with Harry Potter.

Thanks, 8)
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Postby Saturn » Fri Nov 03, 2006 12:38 pm

I give up I truly do :roll: :roll: :roll:
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Postby Malia » Fri Nov 03, 2006 5:21 pm

Just want to remind everyone that Bright Star was *not* written or even revised in Italy. And here's some proof to back me up--taken from the Robert Gittings biography of John Keats entitled John Keats. Gittings was a noted Keats scholar who studied this poet for decades.
Here's a bit of what he has to say about Bright Star:

"Briefly, what we know of the sonnet tells us that its first version could have been written early this November 1818, and that its final revised version was in Fanny Brawne's hands by the following April 1819" (Gittings, 1968, p. 262).


Now, if anyone out there has found, in a credible biography or essay or other work, information that conflicts with this, I'd be happy to hear it. But an opinion does not replace a fact. It is an historical fact that Keats wrote and revised Bright Star before he went to Italy. That's not up for interpretation.

I think it is wonderful that everyone wants to interpret Keats's poetry--to me, that's the best part of reading a poem. . .interpreting it. But I learned as an English Major in college that there are more legitimate interpretations and less legitimite ones. It's important to have a good understanding of the poet's ideas, beliefs, style, influences and even his biography in order to really get a grasp of his work. I'm not saying that every poet bases his work solely on the biographical incidents of his life in a one-to-one manner. . .but in the case of Keats, knowing his life really aids one in understanding his poetry.

Also, there are some amazing and engaging Keats bios out there that I highly encourage everyone to read. They not only help you understand the man in a biographical sense, but many of these authors who are noted Keats sholars also lay out great interpretations of his poetry that can help us better understand the mechanics of interpretation and how to do it in a skilled and scholarly manner. I certainly have learned a *lot* from these authors.

My favorite Keats biographers are Robert Gittings and Aileen Ward. Gittings wrote "John Keats" which was published in 1968 and Aileen Ward wrote "John Keats: The Making of a Poet" in, I believe, 1962 or '63. You can obtain cheap copies of both of these biographies on line through Amazon or Abebooks.com.
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Postby Apollonius » Sun Nov 05, 2006 11:07 am

Permit me to try a little reductio ad absurdam, if you will.

Now, I’m not religious, but I am a fanatical skier. So suppose I approach the poem with the idea that Keats is actually in the poem longing to experience the magic of skiing.

The most obvious place to start is with the clear reference and unambiguous reference to snow. Keats clearly represents the beauty of snow covering the earth and this is something any skier will identify with.

Snow is soft and white, like a pillow, so the reference to pillow at the end of the poem is another snow reference. His fair love’s ripening breast is obviously thus a ski slope and represents Keats deep seated (even though he himself was totally unaware of this and always expressed total contempt for skiing) (I know that’s not true, but I think you see my point) longing to achieve that near-spiritual state of carving fresh powder. It is quite possible for someone to express a longing for something without knowing it!


All the above is obviously complete B%ll%cks, but not far off what we have been presented with by the Deists recently!
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Postby Saturn » Sun Nov 05, 2006 11:50 am

I don't know who you are attacking here [deists i.e. me?] or the religious people :?
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Postby Apollonius » Sun Nov 05, 2006 9:22 pm

Apologies. probably because I assumed that Deists were believers in God (from Deus Latin??) but that must be wrong.

My ludicrous interpretation of Bright Star was aimed at those reading-in religious meanings to the poems of an atheist.

So what is a deist then? I confess ignorance.
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Postby Malia » Sun Nov 05, 2006 10:35 pm

Apollonius wrote:Apologies. probably because I assumed that Deists were believers in God (from Deus Latin??) but that must be wrong.

My ludicrous interpretation of Bright Star was aimed at those reading-in religious meanings to the poems of an atheist.

So what is a deist then? I confess ignorance.


A deist is someone who believes in a higher power but has no formalized religion. An athiest does not believe in any higher power.
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Postby Saturn » Sun Nov 05, 2006 10:42 pm

Actually a deist is someone who believes that there is/was a god who created the universe but then abandoned it and had no further role in its course.
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Postby Apple_Eater » Sun Nov 05, 2006 11:49 pm

Der wrote:
Saturn wrote:Please... enough with trying to make put Keats was religious - its just plain wrong.]

You guys are reading your OWN religious beliefs into Keats' writings.

He I'm sure would be horrified at people tacking religious meanings to his work.

Its as ridiculous as putting Christian meaning into the work of the ancient Pagan authors, and equally erroneous.


Since this is my first post I will make it somewhat meaningful. I know I do not know much about poetry, but I do know people. If you have ever noticed people who do not believe in God or any other type of religion you would come to find 2 things. First, when they are beginning to get old they will become more religious as in maybe reading a little bit of the bible or believing in miracles and #2 they almost always before they die believe in God soon before they die because they want to be forgiven of all of their sins and be in a place that is wonderful outside of the real world which is heaven. The thought of even going to hell is not very "uplifting" to one who is going to die. For example, if you have ever seen Dead Man Walking , not saying this is the most reliable souce, but is a good example, Sean Penn, an accused Rapist and Murderer begins to follow the Christian faith with a Nun who visits him often. By the end of the movie he becomes a much better person knowing that God has forgiven his sins and he admits to his crimes. Knowing God has forgiven him helped him accept death better. Maybe this is why Keats decided to write religiously towards the countdown of his days... :?:





um. No...
Just..
No
Not always

Don't you think if Keats was going to begin some sort of belief in God he'd do it sooner....He was we afraid he would die young years before this poem was written. So, if he really believed he was going to die would he wait to begin his beliefs so late in his life?
No. He wouldn't have.

The religious interpretation of "Bright Star" is valid, however I don't think Keats intended for it to be interpreted in that way.
I'm going to have to say this poem deals with Immortality. It makes far more sense.
Too bad I don't feel like elaborating on that interpretation.
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Postby Black Fire » Mon Nov 06, 2006 9:01 pm

Malia wrote:Just want to remind everyone that Bright Star was *not* written or even revised in Italy. And here's some proof to back me up--taken from the Robert Gittings biography of John Keats entitled John Keats. Gittings was a noted Keats scholar who studied this poet for decades.
Here's a bit of what he has to say about Bright Star:

"Briefly, what we know of the sonnet tells us that its first version could have been written early this November 1818, and that its final revised version was in Fanny Brawne's hands by the following April 1819" (Gittings, 1968, p. 262).


Now, if anyone out there has found, in a credible biography or essay or other work, information that conflicts with this, I'd be happy to hear it. But an opinion does not replace a fact. It is an historical fact that Keats wrote and revised Bright Star before he went to Italy. That's not up for interpretation.

I think it is wonderful that everyone wants to interpret Keats's poetry--to me, that's the best part of reading a poem. . .interpreting it. But I learned as an English Major in college that there are more legitimate interpretations and less legitimite ones. It's important to have a good understanding of the poet's ideas, beliefs, style, influences and even his biography in order to really get a grasp of his work. I'm not saying that every poet bases his work solely on the biographical incidents of his life in a one-to-one manner. . .but in the case of Keats, knowing his life really aids one in understanding his poetry.

Also, there are some amazing and engaging Keats bios out there that I highly encourage everyone to read. They not only help you understand the man in a biographical sense, but many of these authors who are noted Keats sholars also lay out great interpretations of his poetry that can help us better understand the mechanics of interpretation and how to do it in a skilled and scholarly manner. I certainly have learned a *lot* from these authors.

My favorite Keats biographers are Robert Gittings and Aileen Ward. Gittings wrote "John Keats" which was published in 1968 and Aileen Ward wrote "John Keats: The Making of a Poet" in, I believe, 1962 or '63. You can obtain cheap copies of both of these biographies on line through Amazon or Abebooks.com.


That is possible. My resource said that many people including Joseph Severn believed that "Bright Star" was Keats last poem, meaning that it could've been written on his voyage, but my resource also did mention that some critics dated it to 1819. My interpertation was on my thought, because it fitted so well with his voyage to Italy. Which is fact here, I don't know, its just thoughts:)
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Postby Saturn » Mon Nov 06, 2006 10:43 pm

As far as we know he wrote nothing but letters on that whole trip, and painfully few of those.
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Postby wildechild76 » Mon Nov 27, 2006 5:55 pm

I think it's quite clear what Keats meant, but let me use a line from Robert Frost (an avid disciple of Keats and who in fact mentions him in the poem 'Choose Something Like A Star') to shed some light onto the subject..... "But whether or not a man was asked
To mar the love of two, By harboring woe in the bridal house,
The bridegroom wished he knew." (This poem by Frost is Love and a Question) I think Keats knew ultimately he would have to choose between poetry and Fanny Brawne and this poem is his reluctant yet passionate choice for the latter. How could someone that loved expression through poetry so much have possibly devoted himself completely to his beloved? --- The way he felt that Fanny deserved to be worshipped. The first 9 lines of the poem are a beautiful dirge, a requiem to a life of seeing the world through the poet's eyes. The star is redefined in the last 5 lines as the all passionate lover, but still retaining that stedfast quality.
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Postby dks » Mon Nov 27, 2006 7:03 pm

I like the angle you take here, WC.

Yes, he did, in fact, waffle between a life of poetry and a life of "domestic cares" or love--this was compounded when he fell for Fanny, of course. His need to be "stedfast" also has much to do with being able to go on--to keep living, as much as it does to keep experiencing his love's "tender-taken breath." Certainly his illness and prognosis was catalyst enough for him to long for nothing else but love in lieu of "lone splendour"...time was already running out, as he had revised this marvelous sonnet--in the seeming, ironic nick of time, while voyaging to Italy in attempt to recover. :cry:
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Re: The Meaning of "Bright Star"

Postby whatever77 » Thu May 21, 2009 5:12 am

THis isn't a response to previous responses but does this sound logical? In line 1, he expresses his desire to be like the star, but in line 2 he says NOT ... and he subsequently names certain aspects of the star. At the volta, he says NO. I interpreted this as him saying he would like to be a star but NOT "lone hung aloft", or "watching eternal lids apart" or like a "sleepless hermit", or "gazing on the new soft-fallen mask of snow" etc. NO...he doesnt want to be a star and steadfast in this way, but steadfast in love for his wife. This would make sense with the ocatave and sestet idea with a change in tone and idea at the volta, exaclty here.
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