Historical Context in Bright Star! Would I Were as Steadfast as Thou Art

Historical Context Examples in Bright Star! Would I Were as Steadfast as Thou Art:

Text of the Poem 4

"swoon..."   (Text of the Poem)

The verb “to swoon” means to faint or to sink into a state of rest. The emotionally charged and dramatic connotations that accompany the word “swoon” highlight Keats’s involvement in Romanticism, a literary movement from the 18th century that emphasized emotion, individualism, and man’s relationship to nature.

"yet..."   (Text of the Poem)

In a Shakespearean sonnet, line nine signifies the volta, or thematic turn, within the poem. The first two quatrains set up an argument that is then complicated by the final quatrain and couplet. In this poem, line nine marks a volta. However, unlike a traditional sonnet, the first eight lines do not build an argument to complicate. Instead, the speaker begins by stating the theme of the point, digresses to clarify the claim of the first line, then returns to his original point at the volta.

"waters at their priestlike task..."   (Text of the Poem)

Among other themes, Romantic writers explored humankind’s relationship with nature. Romantics distrusted the human world and chose instead to understand themselves and their emotions through a connection with nature. They used sublime aesthetics and emotional language of praise for the perfection of nature. In this way, the Romantics often conflated natural images with religious imagery; nature became a way to understand the self and God. The conflation of nature and religion in this poem reflects Keats's Romantic literary style.

"night,..."   (Text of the Poem)

Keats composes this poem in the form of a Shakespearean sonnet, a fourteen line poem in iambic pentameter with three ABAB quatrains and one rhyming couplet. While the sonnet was originally used to express unrequited love, Keats’s poem focuses on a different kind of longing. The speaker wishes to become everlasting and unchangeable like a star.