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,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever – or else swoon to death.


This Keat poems is a favourite. It is strongly associated with Fanny Brawne, for whom some critics believe it was written. Andrew Motion has argued that Keats started composing it in October 1819. Robert Gittings believes it was drafted in April 1818 — Keats met Fanny in November of that year – although he may later revised it for her. Gittings states it was his ‘declaration of love’.

Keats copied the final version of the sonnet into The Poetical Works of William Shakespeare, opposite Shakespeare’s poem, ‘A Lover’s Complaint’. The poem was published in 1838 in The Plymouth and Devonport Weekly Journal, after Keats’s death.
See: ‘I would sooner die for want of you‘, John Keats to Fanny Brawne, Letter No 13, Top 20 Letters from the heart; Love Letters.


Notice: In no way, have we have intentionally breached anyone’s copyright by quoting text or providing images/YouTube clips. If there is an issue, please contact us and we will credit/remove the text/image immediately.

This review is ©The Literary Shed, 2014. All opinions expressed in it are our own. It can only be reproduced with our permission. Please contact us if you wish to do so. We must be fully credited.