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Thread: Choose Something Like A Star

  1. #1

    Angry Choose Something Like A Star

    In the first three lines of the poem, actually lines 2-3 I am having trouble obtaining meaning out of. Also I know there is a tone shift at the end of the poem, I hope!, but am sort of puzzled as to what it means. My understanding is the star asks of mankind to find comfort in the star. However I feel like Im am being thrown off a train here. Did I miss the purpose of the other lines? I thought that Frost is commenting on mankinds inability to find fulfillment with their discovers and that the star was a symbol for mans need to know everything. I am desperately lost....I would love any help on this.

    Here's the poem:

    O Star (the fairest one in sight),
    We grant your loftiness the right
    To some obscurity of cloud-
    It will not do to say of night,
    Since dark is what brings out your light.
    Some mystery becomes the proud.
    But to the wholly taciturn
    In your reserve is not allowed.
    Say something to us we can learn
    By heart and when alone repeat.
    Say something! And it says, 'I burn.'
    But say with what degree of heat.
    Talk Fahrenheit, talk Centigrade.
    Use Language we can comprehend.
    Tell us what elements you blend.
    It gives us strangely little aid,
    But does tell something in the end
    And steadfast as Keats' Eremite,
    Not even stooping from its sphere,
    It asks a little of us here.
    It asks of us a certain height,
    So when at times the mob is swayed
    To carry praise or blame too far,
    We may choose something like a star
    To stay our minds on and be staid.

  2. #2

    Robert Frost's Choose Something Like a Star

    Hello,
    I love this poem. Did you know that this poem was put to music? It's even more beautiful as a song.
    What I think the poem is saying to begin with is that we are maybe a little uncomfortable with not knowing everything about nature; we can't explain it all and don't understand all there is to know. So as the poem begins, the narrator is almost chastising the star for not revealing to us the secrets of its being. We think we have a right to comprehend every mystery in the universe, and when we don't, we get impatient and frustrated, almost like a child who demands answers to questions that his parents don't know the answer to. This is particularly illustrated in the second paragraph.
    But in the third, and ending paragraph, we see the beginning of acceptance on the part of the narrator as he/she realizes that the answers he seeks are not forthcoming and may never be known. That acceptance is blended with what almost feels like taking comfort from the unknowableness but steadiness of the star. The narrator seems to have resolved his conflict by releasing his need for scientific knowledge and discovering instead a peace found in a more mystical way of looking at his original quest for answers.

  3. #3
    I love this poem as well, one of my favorites. It's interesting to compare it to another poem by John Keats, "Bright Star", which Frost references in his poem. Reading Frost's with Keats' in mind sheds some light on Frost's idea, I think. Here is Keats:

    Bright Star

    Bright star, would I were stedfast 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.

  4. #4
    Another poem that I think sheds some light on this one. Frost's own:


    A Question

    A voice said, Look me in the stars
    And tell me truly, men of earth,
    If all the soul-and-body scars
    Were not too much to pay for birth.


    It at least sheds some light on why Frost used the symbol of a star for the speaker to address in "Take Something Like a Star", I think.

  5. #5
    thank you all for your views!\

  6. #6

    I just did a Google search

    We sang this song for my high school state competition and won with it! I just attended the 21st anniversary benefit concert for our choir and this song has been going around and around in my mind all the way home.

    I just did a google search, and this forum was the first that came up.

    I learned this poem with the music set to it. I cannot simply read it now without hearing the beautiful song it is.

    tundramom

  7. #7
    I've never heard this poem put to music, but all of you, saying that it's a good song as well, have peaked my interest. It's one of my favorite poems, and I'd love to hear it.

    So what is the greatest poem put to music (and I don't mean original song lyrics since they can be poetry too - but I mean famous poems that have later been adapted into song)? One that I have heard is the famous "Trees" by Joyce Kilmer. It was on an old record that my grandfather had. It's beautiful with music.

    And now I'd really like to hear "Take Something Like a Star".

  8. #8
    FYI, the musical setting of Choose Something Like a Star is by Randall Thompson and is part of a 7-poem work called "Frostiana."

    Maybe I'm just carrying my baggage from the 60s which were politically charged, and during which Frost was associated with the Kennedys, but I have always associated this poem with leadership, albeit imperfect. I don't know whether it was addressed to a Churchill, Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower or a Stevenson, but it strikes me as a message of frustration at isolated leaders. I agree that there is a change of tone at the end where it addresses the message -- principled and above the common fray.

  9. #9

    Choose Something Like A Star

    Hello everyone - I wanted to share my take on Robert Frost's poem and the profound message it holds for me.

    First of all, as I write this, I'm listening, for the umpteenth time this morning, to a chorale ensemble rendition of the work performed in Oakland three years ago, my daughter being one of the choir members. Fortunately for me, I have a CD of the performance and listen to it from time-to-time. For some reason, this morning, I heard a message which I hadn't heard before: Carol, stay strong, focused and steady in your attempts to bring Peak Oil news to your family and community. Don't give up.

    The darkness and sadness I feel as I learn more about Climate Change and Peak Oil and the implications for all our lives is sometimes more than I can bear - and takes me to a place of "it's too big, we've run out of time, few are listening, no one wants to hear of the coming sea changes and the sacrifices that will be asked of us, blah blah blah" ... total discouragement and fatalism. Emotional paralysis set in, big time.

    But the combination of the soulful melody and lyrics has inspired me, one more time, to take some action here in my small, high-desert, conservative town. The words tell me to 'say something', to use 'words people in my community will understand (comprehend), and when the 'mob is swayed' (to do nothing, to ignore the signals), when citizens don't get it and/or tend not to listen, I'm to stay steadfast. Do the footwork. Let go of the results, which, actually, may turn out better than I think. I'm inspired. Thanks for listening.

  10. #10

    Choose Something Like a Star

    Hi
    I have enjoyed reading everyone's comments.
    I am in a chorus performing the Randall Thompson setting.
    I thought you might enjoy an alternate analysis of this poem by Kelly Fineman at
    http://kellyrfineman.blogspot.com/20...by-robert.html

  11. #11

    Smile On Frost's works

    Hi, all. It's my first post on this site and I am excited to be here.

    Re: the question of the meaning of the first few lines of "Choose Something Like a Star." We studied Frost in high school English classes and in University advanced English studies. In reading "Choose Something Like a Star," we examined the theory that Frost was looking at the contrast between religion and science, a contrast which was hotly debated at that time. He urged readers to "Choose something like a star," and wants explanations that are notveiled in "the obscurity of cloud." He's looking for stability, a clear light to follow, and chooses the star as his guiding light, so to speak, finding some confort in its presence and a bit of consolation in having something in which to believe. Whether the "star" is God or science is still debated. He wants the star to give him guidance, to "show him the light" and to reveal itself.

    This is has always been one of my favorite poems, and since we performed Frostiana in our high school choir, this one sings to me in many different ways.

    -Sharon

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