In his poem, “Bright Star,” John Keats deftly toys with the concept of love. Though his use of words and literary devices does not provide a clear picture of who he is referring to or the details of the relationship, it is clear that Keats is describing the unshakeable beauty of being in love. The concept of love is one that has many definitions. This is why so many poets have written about it and so many novelists have spent their time describing it. Keats has his own version, and he uses descriptive language to describe that to readers in “Bright Star” and in other poems.
There is one important word in “Bright Star” that is used twice, and for that reason, any diligent reader must take it seriously. That word is stedfast, and it is clear that Keats sees this as one of the qualities that goes along with love. A person who loves another person is steady, as love helps to cover a host of different ills. By being in love, individuals are able to look past flaws and fights, also being there for another person, even when there is good reason not to be there for that person. Keats describes his lover in this poem as being stedfast a couple of times, highlighting the importance of dependability to love.
It is important to note that Keats is comparing his lover to a star in this poem. Stars have many qualities that the poet sees as being admirable. In addition to being stedfast, as mentioned before, a star can illuminate and guide an individual through difficult times. Illumination is a theme here, and it relates to love in a meaningful way. A person who is in love can help to shine a light on the good qualities of another person. This is, in fact, one of the key components of love that Keats consistently brings up in many of his poems. Even when a person is down on himself or herself, a lover is there to ensure that the person understands their strengths and beauty. Like a star illuminates the night, a lover can shine goodness where darkness might have otherwise taken hold.
Stars are also shining lights, providing guidance to people who might have lost their way. In reading this particular poem, one must view Keats in all of his vulnerable glory. He writes of a person who is willing to lay motionless against a lover. This is a sign of weakness, and love provides some guidance and strength during those times when a person might be most weak. Throughout the history of literature, stars have helped navigators and others find their way through a difficult stretch. Keats uses this powerful imagery and symbolism to make an important point about how love can bring one out of a difficult place by providing a significant amount of comfort.
In another of his poems, entitled “A Thing of Beauty,” Keats touches on themes of love, as well. Here, he discusses the ways in which a beautiful thing can help a person make it through the difficulties of life. He does not refer to the word “love” in this particular poem, but it is clear that his description of beauty is based upon the concept of love of another. At one point, he writes, “Some shape of beauty moves away the pall From our dark spirits. Such the sun, the moon, Trees old and young, sprouting a shady boon” (Keats). This particular passage of the poem reflects the darkness that people can feel when they are separated from the beauty of love. Without it, people are often flung into the muck, left to figure out life on their own. With beauty and love, though, they are brought into the light, and they are exposed to the warm and growth that goes along with that light.
Keats continues with his themes of love as a redemptive force in his poem, “A Party of Lovers.” In this poem, he describes the scene that is set when a large group of various lovers go through the motions together. At one point, he refers to the ways in which love can save a person by writing, “The little straggler, sav’d from perils dark, Across the teaboard draws a long wet mark” (Keats). The straggler in this instance is a person who would have been lost without the love that brought him away from the darkness. It is easy to see how this ties in with much of the other work done by Keats on the subject of love. He consistently relies on themes of light and dark to paint the picture of what love is all about. Love, it seems, is all about light, and being out of love is what takes a person to darkness. All of his poems, including this one, draw on the idea that love is a powerful force that can cause a person to turn away from the darkness, walking into the light and comfort that comes with being loved.
John Keats was a romantic, and he wrote many poems about love. Most often, he wrote about how love can be excessively powerful for people who find themselves lost. A lover can be a steadying force, stedfast through challenges and offering a safe place to rest. Love itself can be the thing that motivates a person to avoid the darkness that goes along with personal strife, heading instead to the light that brings about fulfillment and happiness. For Keats, love seems to be the most powerful force in the world.
- Keats, John. “A Party of Lovers.”
- Keats, John. “A Thing of Beauty.”
- Keats, John. “Bright Star.”