Choose Something Like a Star
by Robert Frost from Collected Poems, Prose & Plays (Library of America 1995)
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 be 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.
Personal note: When I read these words to myself, they're set to music. That's because in middle school I was part of a select vocal ensemble, and this poem was one one of our songs. At the time, it was one of my least favorite to learn and practice. The soprano part at the beginning was just us singing "O star" and holding the high note for what felt like forever: "oh staaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrr." And because the pace of the song is so slow, practicing it always seemed to drag. Still, when it all came together, it was pretty nice. If you'd like to watch a lovely performance of it (and to be clear, this isn't my middle school choir, it's the University of Illinois Chamber Singers), you can find that here.
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Thanks to all for your thoughts.