7. Choose Something Like a Star
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.
It saddens me that Randall Thompson decided to have this song as the final song in the piece, since it introduces the meaning of a “star” that runs throughout the entire set of songs we’ll be singing. Perhaps he hopes that it will act as a final summation of the thoughts. In several places, this poem gives insight to what the “stars” can symbolize.
There is something about the “loftiness” of the star that always inspires me. I love to go for long walks on clear nights to see the canopy of stars above me, little flecks of light that bring beauty, light, and order to an otherwise dark and dreary sky. Frost’s star seems to serve the same purpose, it represents those things in our lives – our hopes and dreams, perhaps – that make beautiful the otherwise dark and dreary humdrum of our lives. While we would love to have our whole lives filled with “stars,” the “dark is what brings out [their] light.”
More importantly, Frost’s star teaches us about our hopes and dreams, and what they should be for us: “it says ‘I burn’” – do our dreams burn with the passion to motivate us? “not even stooping from its sphere” – do we set our sights high as we choose our dreams and goals, and never compromise them? “But to be wholly taciturn/ In your reserve is not allowed” – do we stand up for those things that matter to us and choose never to be taciturn (silent) when our dreams are challenged! Above all of these, the most meaningful definition of a star is found in Frost’s final statement “We may choose something like a star/ To stay our minds upon and be staid.” Those hopes, dreams, and goals are the things that keep what is most important in front of us so that we are not detracted by the sway of the world or get lost in the humdrum of our daily lives.