Bright Star!: Structure & Language Techniques

Bright Star!: Structure & Language Techniques


  • “Bright Star!” adheres to the Italian sonnet form commonly known as the Petrarchan sonnet. It is composed of an octave (first eight lines) and a sestet (last six lines).
  • The rhyme scheme reflects this structure, following an ABBA ABBA CDC DCD pattern.
  • There is a clear volta, or turn, at line 9, “Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath”, where the subject shifts from the star to the speaker’s beloved.

Language Techniques

  • Keats uses iambic pentameter, a rhythmic pattern comprising five sets of unstressed syllables followed by stressed syllables.
  • Throughout the poem, Keats employs a form of enjambment (lines that do not end with a full stop, but carry on onto the next line). This smooth flow of words can be seen as a reflection of the star’s constancy.
  • Metaphor is used when Keats describes himself as a “pillow’d upon my fair love’s ripening breast”, depicting his desires in a delicate and intimate way.

Imagery & Allusion

  • The star imagery in the poem evokes Keats’s interest in themes of eternity and transience. He imagines the star as an observer, gazing down upon the earth’s natural wonders.
  • Keats’s description of the star as “watching, with eternal lids apart” uses personification, assigning human characteristics to the star. This makes the star more relatable and vivid to readers.
  • The poem also includes allusion to the “moving waters” and the “snow upon the mountains”, suggesting an underlying theme of the passing of time and change in nature.

Sound & Rhythm

  • Repeated use of the word “still” in the sestet introduces a caesura, creating a lyrical rhythm that reflects the tranquillity the speaker seeks.
  • Keats utilises assonance (repetition of vowel sounds) in “star”, “apart”, “watch”, “washed” and “soft”. This creates a soothing, melodic sound when reading the poem.
  • The use of sibilance (repeated “s” sounds) in the poem, such as in “snow on the mountains”, creates a hushed tone, adding to the quiet tranquillity of the scene.