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Study Questions

Bright Star, would I were stedfast as thou art Questions

Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.

  1. Based on the poem as a whole, would you say that the speaker is friendly towards Nature or is he enemies with it? Or is he somewhere in between? If he's somewhere in between, what would be a better way of explaining the speaker's relationship with Nature?
  2. Based on the poem as a whole, what would you say is the speaker's attitude towards humanity?
  3. In some editions of this poem, depending on which manuscript the editors look at, the words "swell" and "fall" in line 11 appear in the opposite order from the way they appear in the version of the poem we quote on Shmoop. (For an example of this, check out this version of the poem, which reproduces the text as it appeared when the poem was first printed in 1848, 27 years after Keats's death.) What difference do you think each way of ordering the words makes? If you were editing an edition of Keats's poems, which version would you choose and why?
  4. In the text of the poem we're using (the Oxford World's Classics version edited by Elizabeth Cook), the poem ends with a dash: "—". This follows the punctuation of one of Keats's own manuscript versions of the poem. Other modern editors prefer to add a period at the end. Is there a different mood created by the two forms of punctuation? If so, what is it? If you were the editor, would you have followed Keats's manuscript punctuation, or would you have modernized it? Why?
  5. In this poem, Keats uses a Shakespearean sonnet rhyme scheme (ABAB CDCD EFEF GG) and the thought-pattern of a Petrarchan or "Italian" sonnet: one thought-chunk in the first eight lines (the "octet") and one thought-chunk in the last six lines (the "sestet"). Why do you think Keats might have chosen to organize his material in this way? What effect does it have on the poem?

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