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The Meaning of "Bright Star"

PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2006 2:34 am
by ibsilly954
So, I'm really liking this poem right now! Probably, because in writing an essay for my English teacher today, I was able to carry an idea for the figurative meaning of the poem all the way through the poem. I was pretty happy! Does anyone else think that "Bright Star" is religious in nature. For instance, the star represents God, the sky is heaven, the steadfastness of the star represents God's unchanging character, etc. Let me know what you think please!

-ibsilly954

PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2006 3:20 am
by uniqueniqueib
that is exactly what i wrote about. I said the bright star represents how Jesus is the light of the world, and how the words steadfast and unchangable represents god's character. Im right with you.

PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2006 6:56 am
by dks
Bright Star is about Fanny Brawne...the love of Keats's life...she is the hapless woman he wants to look upon as a star--unchangeable and ever following...the sonnet emits an aching immediacy--he was already ill when he wrote it and madly in love with her...it is one of his quintessential love poems...

PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2006 11:32 am
by Saturn
If you knew anything about Keats you would know he was steadfastly non-religious, except in love - he once wrote to Fanny

“I have been astonished that Men could die Martyrs for religion—I have shudder’d at it—I shudder no more—I could be martyr’d for my Religion—Love is my religion—I could die for that—I could die for you. My Creed is Love and you its only tenet…”
~To Fanny Brawne, 13 Oct 1819.

So Denise is quite correct.

PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2006 5:10 pm
by dks
Actually, it is Saturn who is correct, since he had the textual support to back up his assertion...can you tell I'm in my classroom today? Sorry to be pedantic... :oops: :lol:

Bright Star

PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2006 6:02 pm
by Apollonius
One could argue that in the end he rejects the permanance of the distant and cold star in favour of the warm reality of breath and his"fair love's ripening breast".

The "lone splendour" of the star is only briefly envied for its beauty and immortality. In the end Keats opts for life itself, even though it can only end in death.

I would reject all religious interpretations. Didn't Keats himself dismiss religion as "vulgar superstition"?

Re: Bright Star

PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2006 6:19 pm
by Malia
Apollonius wrote:I would reject all religious interpretations. Didn't Keats himself dismiss religion as "vulgar superstition"?


I agree that Keats would not have been talking about Jesus or Christian religion in his poem--at least not in any way that would suggest he was a believer. He was a consumate Diest and toward the end of his life, an athiest. He had definite "issues" with organized religion. However, it isn't beyond Keats to use religious imagery to further the poem's theme and deepen its sense of spiritual connection to and longing for his love for the woman.

PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2006 6:32 pm
by Apollonius
I'm sticking to my theory he rejects the star. Look how many negatives there are in it.
"Not hung aloft..."
"No- yet still (such a loaded double meaning word in Keats) steadfast"

I think he rejects the star in exactly the same way he rejects and questions the worlds of the Nightingale and the Urn.

I think Fanny Brawne is incidental to this much more significant idea of his search for the immortal and perfect.

PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2006 10:01 pm
by uniqueniqueib
Since there is information that Keats wasn't a religious man, i can see where you guys are coming from. But i have some things to say. For one thing interpretations are the result of one's own personal analysis, and if they can be supported then they can be agreed with, but NOT also accepted. Also i agree with Malia, one doesn't have to be a beilever to write about something.

Coming off the tangent...

PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2006 10:42 pm
by Scrib
Not to interrupt your squabbling about religion (which I agree that a person doesn't have to believe in something to write about it) I think that Bright Star doesn't have to do with religion. Instead I think Keats is trying to let it through in our minds that repeatedly the Earth goes through it's stages, spring, summer, winter, fall, and even though it's the same stages over and over again, it's still beautiful and it will last much longer than any of us will.

Re: Coming off the tangent...

PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2006 11:45 pm
by Saturn
Scrib wrote: it's still beautiful and it will last much longer than any of us will.


Whatever you believe, or whatever your interpretation is, that's all that will remain - the beauty of the words.

And there we have it end of discussion for us, but people will still be discussing it one hundred, in hundred years time when we all are dust.

PostPosted: Wed Nov 01, 2006 9:39 pm
by Black Fire
I got a different meaning from this poem. I focused on Keats biography. This poem was written when he was on his voyage to Italy. The voyage where he was making an attempt about get out of his sickness, going to Italy to get the fresher air to help him. Anyways in lines 5 and 6 "The moving waters at their priestlike task Of pure ablution round earth's human shores," on the ship he is traveling on he is hoping that the trip would cure him, with the priestlike task, task of healing. In lines 10 and 11 " pillow'd upon my fair love's ripening breast, To feel for ever its soft fall and swell," from his biography also it was said that once his ship reached ital he was not allowed off the ship for a week or two after, so pillow'd I saw as imagery as in holding him back, and "to feel for ever its soft fall and swell", the sea's tides going up and down is what he feels, and too him those days of waiting would have felt like forever with being stuck on the ship. The theme I came up with this poem was a Journey of dying hope, because in the beginning of the poem he was being optimistic with the voyage, yet at the end he wasn't having such a great feeling of any hope.

PostPosted: Wed Nov 01, 2006 9:47 pm
by Malia
Black Fire wrote:I got a different meaning from this poem. I focused on Keats biography. This poem was written when he was on his voyage to Italy. The voyage where he was making an attempt about get out of his sickness, going to Italy to get the fresher air to help him. Anyways in lines 5 and 6 "The moving waters at their priestlike task Of pure ablution round earth's human shores," on the ship he is traveling on he is hoping that the trip would cure him, with the priestlike task, task of healing. In lines 10 and 11 " pillow'd upon my fair love's ripening breast, To feel for ever its soft fall and swell," from his biography also it was said that once his ship reached ital he was not allowed off the ship for a week or two after, so pillow'd I saw as imagery as in holding him back, and "to feel for ever its soft fall and swell", the sea's tides going up and down is what he feels, and too him those days of waiting would have felt like forever with being stuck on the ship. The theme I came up with this poem was a Journey of dying hope, because in the beginning of the poem he was being optimistic with the voyage, yet at the end he wasn't having such a great feeling of any hope.


That's an interesting interpretation--and very moving when you consider the pain and hardships Keats endured on his trip to Italy. Biographically speaking, most Keats scholars believe that Keats wrote this poem in the Autumn of 1819--not long after he met Fanny Brawne. The romantic notion that he wrote it aboard ship was started by Joseph Severn who saw Keats pouring over the poem. Perhaps Keats was feeling many of the emotions your interpretation seems to conjure up. The poem was very special to both Keats and Fanny Brawne and I can believe he read it aboard ship as a kind of "farewell to England and his love". We know for certain Keats wrote the poem before boarding the ship because Fanny Brawne had a copy of it in one of the books he gave to her on parting.

Re: Coming off the tangent...

PostPosted: Wed Nov 01, 2006 10:43 pm
by Apollo
Scrib wrote:Instead I think Keats is trying to let it through in our minds that repeatedly the Earth goes through it's stages, spring, summer, winter, fall, and even though it's the same stages over and over again, it's still beautiful and it will last much longer than any of us will.


I'm afraid that I can't see where you are getting some of that. I can understand you pulling something from the few lines that even mention earth and/or it's features; but I believe it is a stretch to say that Keats is talking about the season changing. Tell me were you got the changing seasons if you would?

Re: Coming off the tangent...

PostPosted: Wed Nov 01, 2006 11:03 pm
by Scrib
Apollo wrote:
I'm afraid that I can't see where you are getting some of that. I can understand you pulling something from the few lines that even mention earth and/or it's features; but I believe it is a stretch to say that Keats is talking about the season changing. Tell me were you got the changing seasons if you would?


Keats describes a bright star watching with eternally open eyelids, the earth with it's constantly moving waters, and snow falling upon the mountains. Snow...unless you live in Florida...usually signifies Winter...Keats continues to say that he's pilowed on his fair love's ripening breast....since he is talking about the Earth here, ripening signifies Spring...naturally...since the poem goes from winter to spring...I assumed that it naturally meant that the sun was watching the Earth change seasons...