Writing About Form

In: English and Literature

Submitted By charkwaytiao
Words 448
Pages 2
Poetic Forms
Writing about Form
Focusing on effects and purpose of structure / progression, rhyme and rhythm


Addressed to a star, the sonnet asks its constancy and timelessness (‘stedfast’, ‘sleepless’). It is not isolation that the speaker yearns for, where the star passively watches the ‘moving waters’ or gaze upon the ‘snow upon the mountains and the moors’ like a priest or hermit. Instead, the speaker longs for an eternity with his lover, to ‘feel’ her ‘ripening breast’ and ‘hear’ her ‘tender-taken breath’; without this enduring devotion, he would rather ‘swoon in death’. Give him love, or give him death!


‘Bright Star’ takes the form of a Shakespearean sonnet, also borrowing its lyrical style and a heartfelt, forlorn tone. This mood is inseparable from its two-part STRUCTURE: the octave (lines 1-8) focuses on the speaker’s rejection of the lonesome, watchful ‘bright star’, while the sestet (lines 9-14) turns towards love, and how the speaker pines for a timeless world with his lover.


The steady abab RHYME SCHEME of the quatrains enhances this melancholic, patient longing expressed by the speaker. Particularly, the rhyming pair of ‘human shores / the moors’ highlights the melodic beauty of nature that is meaningless in the eyes of the speaker, while the ‘swell’ of his lover’s body finds no match in ‘unchangeable’. The rhyme itself perhaps suggests the impossibility of fulfilling the speaker’s wish, which is mirrored in the poem’s closing lines.


The FINAL COUPLET evokes a graver and more absolute tone compared to the preceding twelve lines. The couplet expresses one last wish to ‘live ever’ in the company of his loved one and ends with a choice between love everlasting and death; for the speaker, life without ‘her tender-taken breath’ is not worth living.


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