Keats' Poems and Letters

Discussion of "Bright Star", "Ode to a Nightingale" and "To Autumn"

Like much of the poetry of Keats, these three poems explore life’s contrasts of pleasure and pain, happiness and sorrow, permanence and impermanence. The mortal pleasures of Beauty and Love are longed for, but proven to be all too often tempered by pain and sorrow as a result of their fleeting nature. Woven amongst these poems is an implicit sense of anguish at humanity’s mortality – a mortality contrasted with, and yet also reflected by Nature.

Bright Star begins with a wish for permanence, for the steadfastness that humanity, due to its mortality, lacks. While the poet aspires to a star, it is not its ‘lone splendor’ he envies, nor the fact it is an ‘Eremite’ or hermit. Rather than being eternally alone, the poet desires an eternal love – to remain with his lover ‘for ever’. The repetition of ‘for ever’, ‘ever’ and ‘still’ reiterate the poet’s deep desire for things to remain the same, to be ‘unchangeable’. But alas, it cannot be. The reason he desires a permanent love so deeply is because love is by nature transitory and fleeting – a point mournfully expounded in Ode to a Nightingale.

The poet’s longing for the permanence of the stars is as unreachable as their distance, and his realisation of this sad reality is the cause of...

Join Now to View Premium Content

GradeSaver provides access to 725 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 4211 literature essays, 1403 sample college application essays, 171 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.

Join Now

Already a member? Log in