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…
(John Keats, Bright Star)
With those six lines there, poetry had me.
I read those as a kid and was floored. I mean, first there’s the language: what’s an Eremite? Steadfa- que? But you go down into the words waters, priestlike task, ablution, shores and they take you into the ocean with their sounds. I was hooked. I didn’t know what I was looking at but I wanted to be around it, be part of it.
Of course, I didn’t realize this til much later, when I returned to Keats in an official I AM NOW GOING TO READ POETRY adolescent way. Coming across this poem again, I went back to that silence of being a kid with something – can’t name it, don’t know what it is – but something there in these words is soooo cooool.
Eloquent I am not.
That said, I wanted to do a more personal post for this, the 100th post.
And what’s more personal than stars:
Sure, they’re all the way up there and on a completely different timeframe than us. Yet, when you look up – or rather, when you let yourself look up and really look up – there’s something…I don’t know, nice about it.
Here’s me trying to say it better:
To a star in Texas – Jose Angel Araguz
Little light weaving through, I cannot
make out much tonight, and I know this here
means nothing to you, so
skin, tell my stories; heart, fill the sky.
I don’t know exactly what that last line means but I’ve been kinda living by it ever since I wrote it years ago. Something about how just being here is enough.
Stars. The word, plural or singular, is so riddled with cliche, you could be talking about nothing. And in a way you are.
Stars are, for me, things of persistence, pseudo-Venn diagrams of presence and absence. They are one of the few things that people will – nearly universally – stop and let me themselves be awed by.
How do I know this? Through reading poems.
Here’s Rilke’s take on it:
Lament – Rainer Maria Rilke
Everything is far
and long gone by.
I think that the star
glittering above me
has been dead for a million years.
I think there were tears
in the car I heard pass
and something terrible was said.
A clock has stopped striking in the house
across the road…
When did it start?…
I would like to step out of my heart
and go walking beneath the enormous sky.
I would like to pray.
And surely of all the stars that perished
one still exists.
I think that I know
which one it is —
which one, at the end of its beam in the sky,
stands like a white city…
(trans. Stephen Mitchell)
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