Themes and Meanings

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Last Updated on May 8, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 473

“Country Stars” is a poem about vision and the bond between humankind and nature. The poem presents many perspectives on vision. There is the blurred vision of the child, the clouded vision of the city dwellers viewing the sky through polluted air, and the total loss of vision expressed through the blackness of the night. Scenes are viewed from a distance as well as from close proximity. They are even viewed through such different mediums as glass and polluted air. There is, though, one who sees with a penetrating vision and clarity all that escapes the multitudes. This is the omniscient poet, who rejoices in the beauty of the country stars passing over the apple trees and the “bright watchers” in the sky over the city and wishes to share this joy. The poet as seer, however, also realizes that the joy he experiences in this relationship between himself and the beautiful night sky is doomed to be a solitary experience if humanity is not more conscious of the environment. Through “Country Stars,” Meredith attempts to instill this consciousness in his readers.

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The poet sees humanity through its own means destroying a very special relationship with beauty and nature. The theme of a relationship begins with the poet’s depiction of the trusting relationship between parent and child in the scene in which the child comes without her glasses to be kissed goodnight. This relationship is extended to that between nature and humankind when the poet perceives the stars to be watching over the earth’s population, as a parent watches over a child. Words such as “distrust” and “fear” implant the idea that relationships can change for the worse, which is what the poet sees happening on earth. Consciously or unconsciously, by polluting the earth’s atmosphere, humans are harming the relationship they have with nature. The poem expresses the fear that a time may come when the bond between humans and nature may be totally severed. The spiritual beauty of the night sky will be there, but it will be unperceived by the people on Earth.

By making readers of “Country Stars” aware of the loss that will be experienced through specific words, images, and scene painting, Meredith illuminates for his readers the danger of pollution. A key sentiment in the poem is that humans have the capacity to transform things. This is illustrated in the way the child transforms a black windowpane into white. The glittering stars brightening the dark night therefore become symbols of hope as the poet puts the fate of the relationship between humanity and the sublime beauty of nature in the hands of the people of the earth. Meredith seems to be urging readers to work unitedly for a pollution-free atmosphere so that they can continue to rejoice in the sublime beauty of the “country stars.”

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