These are notes on the texts and music we are singing in MRC.
In Frost’s Choose Something Like a Star (1949)
Frost refers to Keat’s Eremite-
Keats (1795-1821) was, with Shelley and Byron, one of the leaders of the second generation of Romantic Poets. Bright Star was written by Keats in 1818-or 1819, a year or so before his death. Note also Keats’ “steadfast” in his first and ninth lines, and Frost’s use of it.
Bright Star by John Keats
Bright star, would I were steadfast as thou art —
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
Like Nature’s patient, sleepless Eremite,
The moving waters at their priestlike task
Of pure ablution round earth’s human shores,
Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask
Of snow upon the mountains and the moors —
No — yet still stedfast, still unchangeable,
Pillow’d upon my fair love’s ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever — or else swoon to death.
An eremite is a hermit, one who lives alone, especially a religious recluse
Capitalized by Keats, Eremite becomes mythic without a story, perhaps a Jungian archetype, just as Nature is personalized, by Keats and by the Declaration of Independence (1776).
Keats’ Bright Star has been interpreted as the apparently unmoving (steadfast) Polaris/North Star. I would not so restrict it to the Northern Hemisphere.