“My Star” by Robert Browning

For the full poem click here.

In the first stanza, the speaker of the poem describes the movements of a star that leaves a beautiful trail of red and blue. He tells us that even his friends desire to see the star’s beauty. This part of the poem is written in short quick bursts of images, mimicking the stars constant movement, and represent the quick flutter of first impressions.

The second stanza contains longer more descriptive lines of poetry as if the speaker is slowly down from his initial frenzy and thinking a bit more deeply about his subject. The star has become stationary like a solitary bird or furled flower. The speaker compares his star to Saturn, an entire world, which impresses his friends’ more. But the speaker says:

“ What matter to me if their star is a world?
Mine has opened its soul to me; therefore I love it.”

One possible reading is that the star symbolizes a love interest. The first stanza is about young love, which is all lust, excitement, and roiling emotions. Beautiful bursts of red and blue. We see these bursts of feeling and excitement in the short quick lines. The second stanza with its more descriptive and elegant lines would represent more mature love. The star is now compared to a stationary bird and furled flower, implying a hidden beauty in that a bird is most beautiful in mid-flight and the flower is literally hiding its inner beauty by being furled. The star and the bird are no longer flying about showing off their beauty in wild splendor, but their beauty is hidden and are more difficult to notice. The speaker no longer sees the superficial darts of red and blue, but loves the star because it reveals its very soul to him while his friends prefer to gaze upon Saturn, having lost interest in the star now no longer darting about. The speaker says he has seen his lover’s soul and it is for this reason that he loves it, despite his friends’ inability to understand his feelings. He has a more intimate relationship with the star. True love, once you get beyond the original lusts and emotions of the early courting stages, is about understanding the deepest part of your loved one, their very soul.

Another way to see this poem is about the appreciation of beauty in general. There are times when once our friends sympathized with our tastes in beauty (as in the first stanza), but tastes change over time and sometimes our friends find beauty where we do not and we see beauty where they do not. In this reading, there is also the suggestion by the fact that the friends could see the beauty at first, but then prefer Saturn in the later stanza, that their original appreciation of the star’s beauty was actually superficial. If you understand the true essence of a beautiful object, its soul, you can never stop loving it like the speaker.

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