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.
The speaker wants to be as steadfast and unchanging as the star but he does not want to be alone watching with eyes open patiently, sleeplessly and eternally the moving waters flowing round the earth purifying the humanity like a ritual priest work or the snow covering the mountains and the moors. He wants to still unchangingly and eternally awake rest upon his lover’s bosom, to feel its softness and hear her breath; otherwise, he would rather die.
I think the purification of nature is compared to the sublimation of his lover’s love which like the nature washing away and whitening the sin of humanity, his lover makes him feel better, more like a human with feelings than a non-human subject.