"Bright Star, Would I Were Steadfast As Thou Art"

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Context: In 1818, Keats visited the Lake Country of northern England and remarked that its austere beauty "refines one's sensual vision into a sort of north star which can never cease to be open lidded and steadfast over the wonders of the great Power." In 1819 he developed the thought into a sonnet which, in 1820, he gave in its final form to his painter friend Joseph Severn. In the opening lines, Keats addresses a bright star. He would be steadfast and unchanging as the unsleeping star that patiently keeps vigil over the earth. But Keats does not wish to be steadfast in "lone splendor," as the star is; he asks to be steadfast "pillowed upon my fair love's ripening breast," there to live forever–or to slip quietly into death. This is the last poem that Keats wrote.

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Bright star, would I were steadfast as thou art–Not in lone splendor hung aloft the nightAnd watching, with eternal lids apart,Like nature's patient, sleepless Eremite, . . .

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