Treasure Island

John Keats

(31 October 1795 – 23 February 1821 / London, England)

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His Last Sonnet

Bright star, would I were steadfast 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 steadfast, still unchangeable,
Pillowed upon my fair love's ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever -or else swoon to death.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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Read poems about / on: snow, star, nature, death, night, love, sonnet, water

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  • Johann Joseph Claßen (12/22/2012 6:55:00 AM)

    German translated by

    Johann Joseph Claßen


    Nach John Keats:
    Bright Star

    Stern! wäre ich gleich dir beständig nur –
    Nicht ruhte mehr beständig hehr aus Nacht
    Mein Blick auf einsam glänzender Natur
    Und schwände lang hin in Alleinseinspracht.

    Nicht ruhte er im Meer, des’ Priesterakt
    Rein wäscht, was küstenweit des Menschen Werk;
    Auf Schneenachtsweite nicht, wie keusch und nackt
    Sie glitzert, angeschmiegt an Moor und Berg.

    Nein – gleich beständig ruhte dauerhaft
    Der Blick auf meines Liebchens weißer Brust:
    Wie hingebettet sie sich hebt und strafft,

    Bereit auf immer der versüßten Lust,
    Nur diesem Atmensakt ganz nah devot
    Zu ruhen – oder schwinden in den Tod. (Report) Reply

  • Michael Pruchnicki (10/6/2009 6:53:00 PM)

    Sometimes I wonder about the misconceptions some of you have about poetry and poets, but your garbled interpretations cause my wonder to dissipate in the fog of incomprehension I detect in your postings!

    Alert to Albert Ahearn- 'His Last Sonnet' by John Keats is NOT a Shakespearean sonnet. Fourteen lines make a sonnet, OK! But when divided into an octave (eight lines rhyming ABABCDCD) - art / night / apart / eremite / task / shores / mask / moors // and a sestet (six lines rhyming EFEFGG) - able / breast / swell / unrest / breath / death, it is a PETRARCHAN sonnet! Remember that your high school teacher impressed upon your adolescent mind that Shakespeare wrote sonnets composed of three quatrains (four lines each) and a couplet (two lines) that summed up or resolved the problem raised in the three preceding quatrains!

    The poet differs from the persona, the 'I' character in the sonnet that the poet creates to express the thoughts and feelings that many unwary readers take to be the poet expressing himself as the lover or whomever he pretends to be. Recall if you can that teacher who told you that the term 'persons' literally means 'mask! '

    And forget Fanny Brawn or whomever else your restless mind and imagination construes as Keats's love interest in real life. Cite your sources, boy! Your vulgar line about the half-naked wench stretched out on the couch leaves most of us in the dark! (Report) Reply

  • Tai Chi Italy (10/6/2009 3:29:00 PM)

    For me Keats is the most romantic hero in poetic terms. If this was infact his last sonnet before his death at such a young age, then it is written in the heightened spirit of his inspirations muse! Love and Death...our greatest preoccupation in life, the closer we get, the more inspired we are. When I read him in the 90's, that is when I realised what poetry was all about. Not actively constructed, but euphorically inspired, by death, by love, by life.

    An amazingly sad and beautiful read.

    Thanks John

    Smiling at you

    Tai (Report) Reply

  • Kerry O'Connor (10/6/2009 10:16:00 AM)

    Considering the fact that Keats died at 26 years old after a long, malingering battle against TB, his preoccupation with death and his imminent separation from his beloved Fanny Brawn is quite understandable and sensitively penned. (Report) Reply

  • Kevin Straw (10/6/2009 6:04:00 AM)

    In Keats there is a melancholy (sometimes conscious, sometimes unconsciously expressed) that pervades much of his work. This melancholy proceeds from his frustration at his impending death which will cut off the full development of his poetry, and his sexual frustration. In this poem there is the paradox that he would exchange his eternal genius for love, but love which is like that of the lovers in the Ode to A Grecian Urn - eternally the same, never fully realised, but at the same time never frustrated. It is the poem of a man who passionately wants full sexual love, but at the same time fears it, and it is no less a poem for that. Compare the poem 'When I have fears that I may cease to be...' which deals with both frustrations. (Report) Reply

  • Joseph Poewhit (10/6/2009 6:02:00 AM)

    Sort of brings to light, the depth of character in steadfastness, a shining star in the heavens. (Report) Reply

  • Ramesh T A (10/6/2009 3:17:00 AM)

    A sensuous sonnet heightened to the stature of steadfast Star shows how passionate Keats is! No lover in the world would ever forget this great poet forever! (Report) Reply

  • Daphne Grant (10/6/2007 5:52:00 PM)

    The poet is stating that he wished he could be as constant as the eternal star, and he says it in his own inimitable way.The message is summed up in the line, awake forever in a sweet unrest. Awake like the constant star, or if not and so live for ever - or else swoon to death. He is in such a state of joy, that he wished he could remain so forever; as the constant star. It is a very beautifull poem.

    daphne Grant (Report) Reply

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