Adonaïs: An elegy on the death of John Keats, author of Endymion, Hyperion, etc. (Adonaies) (pronounced /ˌædɵˈneɪ.ɨs/) is a pastoral elegy written by Percy Bysshe Shelley for John Keats in 1821, and widely regarded as one of Shelley's best and most well-known works.
- An Elegy on the Death of John Keats
I weep for Adonais — he is dead!
O, weep for Adonais! though our tears
Thaw not the frost which binds so dear a head!
And thou, sad Hour, selected from all years
To mourn our loss, rouse thy obscure compeers,
And teach them thine own sorrow! Say: ‘With me
Died Adonais; till the Future dares
Forget the Past, his fate and fame shall be
An echo and a light unto eternity!’
Where wert thou, mighty Mother, when he lay,
When thy Son lay, pierced by the shaft which flies
In darkness? where was lorn Urania
When Adonais died? With veilèd eyes,
’Mid listening Echoes, in her Paradise
She sate, while one, with soft enamoured breath,
Rekindled all the fading melodies
With which, like flowers that mock the corse beneath,
He had adorned and hid the coming bulk of death.
Oh weep for Adonais—he is dead!
Wake, melancholy Mother, wake and weep! 20
Yet wherefore? Quench within their burning bed
Thy fiery tears, and let thy loud heart keep,
Like his, a mute and uncomplaining sleep;
For he is gone, where all things wise and fair
Descend;—oh, dream not that the amorous Deep 25
Will yet restore him to the vital air;
Death feeds on his mute voice, and laughs at our despair.
Most musical of mourners, weep again!
Lament anew, Urania!—He died,
Who was the Sire of an immortal strain, 30
Blind, old, and lonely, when his country’s pride,
The priest, the slave, and the liberticide,
Trampled and mocked with many a loathèd rite
Of lust and blood; he went, unterrified,
Into the gulf of death; but his clear Sprite 35
Yet reigns o’er earth; the third among the sons of light.
Most musical of mourners, weep anew!
Not all to that bright station dared to climb;
And happier they their happiness who knew,
Whose tapers yet burn through that night of time 40
In which suns perished; others more sublime,
Struck by the envious wrath of man or god,
Have sunk, extinct in their refulgent prime;
And some yet live, treading the thorny road,
Which leads, through toil and hate, to Fame’s serene abode. 45
But now, thy youngest, dearest one has perished,
The nursling of thy widowhood, who grew,
Like a pale flower by some sad maiden cherished,
And fed with true-love tears, instead of dew;
Most musical of mourners, weep anew! 50
Thy extreme hope, the loveliest and last,
The bloom, whose petals nipt before they blew
Died on the promise of the fruit, is waste;
The broken lily lies—the storm is overpast.
To that high Capital, where kingly Death 55
Keeps his pale court in beauty and decay,
He came; and bought, with price of purest breath,
A grave among the eternal—Come away!
Haste, while the vault of blue Italian day
Is yet his fitting charnel-roof! while still 60
He lies, as if in dewy sleep he lay;
Awake him not! surely he takes his fill
Of deep and liquid rest, forgetful of all ill.
He will awake no more, oh, never more!—
Within the twilight chamber spreads apace, 65
The shadow of white Death, and at the door
Invisible Corruption waits to trace
His extreme way to her dim dwelling-place;
The eternal Hunger sits, but pity and awe
Soothe her pale rage, nor dares she to deface 70
So fair a prey, till darkness, and the law
Of change shall o’er his sleep the mortal curtain draw.
Oh weep for Adonais!—The quick Dreams,
The passion-wingèd Ministers of thought,
Who were his flocks, whom near the living streams 75
Of his young spirit he fed, and whom he taught
The love which was its music, wander not,—
Wander no more, from kindling brain to brain,
But droop there, whence they sprung; and mourn their lot
Round the cold heart, where, after their sweet pain, 80
They ne’er will gather strength, or find a home again.
And one with trembling hands clasps his cold head,
And fans him with her moonlight wings, and cries;
‘Our love, our hope, our sorrow, is not dead;
See, on the silken fringe of his faint eyes, 85
Like dew upon a sleeping flower, there lies
A tear some Dream has loosened from his brain.’
Lost Angel of a ruined Paradise!
She knew not ’twas her own; as with no stain
She faded, like a cloud which had outwept its rain. 90
One from a lucid urn of starry dew
Washed his light limbs as if embalming them;
Another clipt her profuse locks, and threw
The wreath upon him, like an anadem,
Which frozen tears instead of pearls begem; 95
Another in her wilful grief would break
Her bow and wingèd reeds, as if to stem
A greater loss with one which was more week;
And dull the barbèd fire against his frozen cheek.
Another Splendour on his mouth alit, 100
That mouth, whence it was wont to draw the breath
Which gave it strength to pierce the guarded wit,
And pass into the panting heart beneath
With lightning and with music: the damp death
Quenched its caress upon his icy lips; 105
And, as a dying meteor stains a wreath
Of moonlight vapour, which the cold night clips,
It flushed through his pale limbs, and passed to its eclipse.
And others came … Desires and Adorations,
Wingèd Persuasions and veiled Destinies, 110
Splendours and Glooms, and glimmering Incarnations
Of hopes and fears, and twilight Phantasies;
And Sorrow, with her family of Sighs,
And Pleasure, blind with tears, led by the gleam
Of her own dying smile instead of eyes, 115
Came in slow pomp;—the moving pomp might seem
Like pageantry of mist on an autumnal stream.
All he had loved, and moulded into thought,
From shape, and hue, and odour, and sweet sound,
Lamented Adonais. Morning sought 120
Her eastern watch-tower, and her hair unbound,
Wet with the tears which should adorn the ground,
Dimmed the ae¨rial eyes that kindle day;
Afar the melancholy thunder moaned,
Pale Ocean in unquiet slumber lay, 125
And the wild winds flew round, sobbing in their dismay.
Lost Echo sits amid the voiceless mountains,
And feeds her grief with his remembered lay,
And will no more reply to winds or fountains,
Or amorous birds perched on the young green spray, 130
Or herdsman’s horn, or bell at closing day;
Since she can mimic not his lips, more dear
Than those for whose disdain she pined away
Into a shadow of all sounds:—a drear
Murmur, between their songs, is all the woodmen hear. 135
Grief made the young Spring wild, and she threw down
Her kindling buds, as if she Autumn were,
Or they dead leaves; since her delight is flown
For whom should she have waked the sullen year?
To Phoebus was not Hyacinth so dear 140
Nor to himself Narcissus, as to both
Thou, Adonais: wan they stand and sere
Amid the faint companions of their youth,
With dew all turned to tears; odour, to sighing ruth.
Thy spirit’s sister, the lorn nightingale, 145
Mourns not her mate with such melodious pain;
Not so the eagle, who like thee could scale
Heaven, and could nourish in the sun’s domain
Her mighty youth with morning, doth complain,
Soaring and screaming round her empty nest, 150
As Albion wails for thee; the curse of Cain
Light on his head who pierced thy innocent breast,
And scared the angel soul that was its earthly guest!
Ah, woe is me! Winter is come and gone,
But grief returns with the revolving year; 155
The airs and streams renew their joyous tone:
The ants, the bees, the swallows reappear;
Fresh leaves and flowers deck the dead Seasons’ bier;
The amorous birds now pair in every brake,
And build their mossy homes in field and brere; 160
And the green lizard, and the golden snake,
Like unimprisoned flames, out of their trance awake.
Through wood and stream and field and hill and Ocean
A quickening life from the Earth’s heart has burst
As it has ever done, with change and motion, 165
From the great morning of the world when first
God dawned on Chaos; in its stream immersed
The lamps of Heaven flash with a softer light;
All baser things pant with life’s sacred thirst;
Diffuse themselves; and spend in love’s delight, 170
The beauty and the joy of their renewèd might.
The leprous corpse touched by this spirit tender
Exhales itself in flowers of gentle breath;
Like incarnations of the stars, when splendour
Is changed to fragrance, they illumine death 175
And mock the merry worm that wakes beneath;
Nought we know, dies. Shall that alone which knows
Be as a sword consumed before the sheath
By sightless lightning?—the intense atom glows
A moment, then is quenched in a most cold repose. 180
Alas! that all we loved of him should be
But for our grief, as if it had not been,
And grief itself be mortal! Woe is me!
Whence are we, and why are we? of what scene
The actors or spectators? Great and mean 185
Meet massed in death, who lends what life must borrow.
As long as skies are blue, and fields are green,
Evening must usher night, night urge the morrow,
Month follow month with woe, and year wake year to sorrow.
He will awake no more, oh, never more! 190
‘Wake thou,’ cried Misery, ‘childless Mother, rise
Out of thy sleep, and slake, in thy heart’s core,
A wound more fierce than his, with tears and sighs.’
And all the Dreams that watched Urania’s eyes,
And all the Echoes whom their sister’s song 195
Had held in holy silence, cried: ‘Arise!’
Swift as a Thought by the snake Memory stung,
From her ambrosial rest the fading Splendour sprung.
She rose like an autumnal Night, that springs
Out of the East, and follows wild and drear 200
The golden Day, which, on eternal wings,
Even as a ghost abandoning a bier,
Had left the Earth a corpse. Sorrow and fear
So struck, so roused, so rapt Urania;
So saddened round her like an atmosphere 205
Of stormy mist; so swept her on her way
Even to the mournful place where Adonais lay.
Out of her secret Paradise she sped,
Through camps and cities rough with stone, and steel,
And human hearts, which to her airy tread 210
Yielding not, wounded the invisible
Palms of her tender feet where’er they fell:
And barbèd tongues, and thoughts more sharp than they
Rent the soft Form they never could repel,
Whose sacred blood, like the young tears of May, 215
Paved with eternal flowers that undeserving way.
In the death-chamber for a moment Death,
Shamed by the presence of that living Might,
Blushed to annihilation, and the breath
Revisited those lips, and Life’s pale light 220
Flashed through those limbs, so late her dear delight.
‘Leave me not wild and drear and comfortless,
As silent lightning leaves the starless night!
Leave me not!’ cried Urania: her distress
Roused Death: Death rose and smiled, and met her vain caress. 225
‘Stay yet awhile! speak to me once again;
Kiss me, so long but as a kiss may live;
And in my heartless breast and burning brain
That word, that kiss, shall all thoughts else survive,
With food of saddest memory kept alive, 230
Now thou art dead, as dead, as if it were a part
Of thee, my Adonais! I would give
All that I am to be as thou now art!
But I am chained to Time, and cannot thence depart!
‘O gentle child, beautiful as thou wert, 235
Why didst thou leave the trodden paths of men
Too soon, and with weak hands though mighty heart
Dare the unpastured dragon in his den?
Defenceless as thou wert, oh where was then
Wisdom the mirrored shield, or scorn the spear? 240
Or hadst thou waited the full cycle, when
Thy spirit should have filled its crescent sphere,
The monsters of life’s waste had fled from thee like deer.
‘The herded wolves, bold only to pursue;
The obscene ravens, clamorous o’er the dead; 245
The vultures to the conqueror’s banner true
Who feed where Desolation first has fed,
And whose wings rain contagion;—how they fled,
When, like Apollo, from his golden bow,
The Pythian of the age one arrow sped 250
And smiled!—The spoilers tempt no second blow,
They fawn on the proud feet that spurn them lying low.
‘The sun comes forth, and many reptiles spawn;
He sets, and each ephemeral insect then
Is gathered into death without a dawn, 255
And the immortal stars awake again;
So is it in the world of living men:
A godlike mind soars forth, in its delight
Making earth bare and veiling heaven, and when
It sinks, the swarms that dimmed or shared its light 260
Leave to its kindred lamps the spirit’s awful night.’
Thus ceased she: and the mountain shepherds came,
Their garlands sere, their magic mantles rent;
The Pilgrim of Eternity, whose fame
Over his living head like Heaven is bent, 265
An early but enduring monument,
Came, veiling all the lightnings of his song
In sorrow; from her wilds Ierne sent
The sweetest lyrist of her saddest wrong,
And Love taught Grief to fall like music from his tongue. 270
Midst others of less note, came one frail Form,
A phantom among men; companionless
As the last cloud of an expiring storm
Whose thunder is its knell; he, as I guess,
Had gazed on Nature’s naked loveliness, 275
Actæon-like, and now he fled astray
With feeble steps o’er the world’s wilderness,
And his own thoughts, along that rugged way,
Pursued, like raging hounds, their father and their prey.
A pardlike Spirit beautiful and swift— 280
Love in desolation masked;—a Power
Girt round with weakness;—it can scarce uplift
The weight of the superincumbent hour;
It is a dying lamp, a falling shower,
A breaking billow;—even whilst we speak 285
Is it not broken? On the withering flower
The killing sun smiles brightly: on a cheek
The life can burn in blood, even while the heart may break.
His head was bound with pansies overblown,
And faded violets, white, and pied, and blue; 290
And a light spear topped with a cypress cone,
Round whose rude shaft dark ivy tresses grew
Yet dripping with the forest’s noonday dew,
Vibrated, as the ever-beating heart
Shook the weak hand that grasped it; of that crew 295
He came the last, neglected and apart;
A herd-abandoned deer struck by the hunter’s dart.
All stood aloof, and at his partial moan
Smiled through their tears; well knew that gentle band
Who in another’s fate now wept his own; 300
As in the accents of an unknown land,
He sung new sorrow; sad Urania scanned
The Stranger’s mien, and murmured: ‘Who art thou?’
He answered not, but with a sudden hand
Made bare his branded and ensanguined brow, 305
Which was like Cain’s or Christ’s—oh, that it should be so!
What softer voice is hushed over the dead?
Athwart what brow is that dark mantle thrown?
What form leans sadly o’er the white death-bed,
In mockery of monumental stone, 310
The heavy heart heaving without a moan?
If it be He, who, gentlest of the wise,
Taught, soothed, loved, honoured the departed one;
Let me not vex, with inharmonious sighs
The silence of that heart’s accepted sacrifice. 315
Our Adonais has drunk poison—Oh!
What deaf and viperous murderer could crown
Life’s early cup with such a draught of woe?
The nameless worm would now itself disown:
It felt, yet could escape, the magic tone 320
Whose prelude held all envy, hate, and wrong,
But what was howling in one breast alone,
Silent with expectation of the song,
Whose master’s hand is cold, whose silver lyre unstrung.
Live thou, whose infamy is not thy fame! 325
Live! fear no heavier chastisement from me,
Thou noteless blot on a remembered name!
But be thyself, and know thyself to be!
And ever at thy season be thou free
To spill the venom when thy fangs o’erflow: 330
Remorse and Self-contempt shall cling to thee;
Hot Shame shall burn upon thy secret brow,
And like a beaten hound tremble thou shalt—as now.
Nor let us weep that our delight is fled
Far from these carrion kites that scream below; 335
He wakes or sleeps with the enduring dead;
Thou canst not soar where he is sitting now.—
Dust to the dust! but the pure spirit shall flow
Back to the burning fountain whence it came,
A portion of the Eternal, which must glow 340
Through time and change, unquenchably the same,
Whilst thy cold embers choke the sordid hearth of shame.
Peace, peace! he is not dead, he doth not sleep—
He hath awakened from the dream of life—
’Tis we, who lost in stormy visions, keep 345
With phantoms an unprofitable strife,
And in mad trance, strike with our spirit’s knife
Invulnerable nothings.—We decay
Like corpses in a charnel; fear and grief
Convulse us and consume us day by day, 350
And cold hopes swarm like worms within our living clay.
He has outsoared the shadow of our night;
Envy and calumny and hate and pain,
And that unrest which men miscall delight,
Can touch him not and torture not again; 355
From the contagion of the world’s slow stain
He is secure, and now can never mourn
A heart grown cold, a head grown gray in vain;
Nor, when the spirit’s self has ceased to burn,
With sparkless ashes load an unlamented urn. 360
He lives, he wakes—’tis Death is dead, not he;
Mourn not for Adonais.—Thou young Dawn,
Turn all thy dew to splendour, for from thee
The spirit thou lamentest is not gone;
Ye caverns and ye forests, cease to moan! 365
Cease, ye faint flowers and fountains, and thou Air
Which like a mourning veil thy scarf hadst thrown
O’er the abandoned Earth, now leave it bare
Even to the joyous stars which smile on its despair!
He is made one with Nature: there is heard 370
His voice in all her music, from the moan
Of thunder, to the song of night’s sweet bird;
He is a presence to be felt and known
In darkness and in light, from herb and stone,
Spreading itself where’er that Power may move 375
Which has withdrawn his being to its own;
Which wields the world with never wearied love,
Sustains it from beneath, and kindles it above.
He is a portion of the loveliness
Which once he made more lovely: he doth bear 380
His part, while the one Spirit’s plastic stress
Sweeps through the dull dense world, compelling there
All new successions to the forms they wear;
Torturing th’ unwilling dross that checks its flight
To its own likeness, as each mass may bear; 385
And bursting in its beauty and its might
From trees and beasts and men into the Heaven’s light.
The splendours of the firmament of time
May be eclipsed, but are extinguished not;
Like stars to their appointed height they climb 390
And death is a low mist which cannot blot
The brightness it may veil. When lofty thought
Lifts a young heart above its mortal lair,
And love and life contend in it, for what
Shall be its earthly doom, the dead live there 395
And move like winds of light on dark and stormy air.
The inheritors of unfulfilled renown
Rose from their thrones, built beyond mortal thought,
Far in the Unapparent. Chatterton
Rose pale,—his solemn agony had not 400
Yet faded from him; Sidney, as he fought
And as he fell and as he lived and loved
Sublimely mild, a Spirit without spot,
Arose; and Lucan, by his death approved:
Oblivion as they rose shrank like a thing reproved. 405
And many more, whose names on Earth are dark,
But whose transmitted effluence cannot die
So long as fire outlives the parent spark,
Rose, robed in dazzling immortality.
‘Thou art become as one of us,’ they cry, 410
‘It was for thee yon kingless sphere has long
Swung blind in unascended majesty,
Silent alone amid an Heaven of Song.
Assume thy wingèd throne, thou Vesper of our throng!’
Who mourns for Adonais? Oh, come forth, 415
Fond wretch! and know thyself and him aright.
Clasp with thy panting soul the pendulous Earth;
As from a centre, dart thy spirit’s light
Beyond all worlds, until its spacious might
Satiate the void circumference: then shrink 420
Even to a point within our day and night;
And keep thy heart light lest it make thee sink
When hope has kindled hope, and lured thee to the brink.
Or go to Rome, which is the sepulchre
Oh, not of him, but of our joy: ’tis nought 425
That ages, empires, and religions there
Lie buried in the ravage they have wrought;
For such as he can lend,—they borrow not
Glory from those who made the world their prey;
And he is gathered to the kings of thought 430
Who waged contention with their time’s decay,
And of the past are all that cannot pass away.
Go thou to Rome,—at once the Paradise,
The grave, the city, and the wilderness;
And where its wrecks like shattered mountains rise, 435
And flowering weeds, and fragrant copses dress
The bones of Desolation’s nakedness,
Pass, till the Spirit of the spot shall lead
Thy footsteps to a slope of green access
Where, like an infant’s smile, over the dead 440
A light of laughing flowers along the grass is spread.
And gray walls moulder round, on which dull Time
Feeds, like slow fire upon a hoary brand;
And one keen pyramid with wedge sublime,
Pavilioning the dust of him who planned 445
This refuge for his memory, doth stand
Like flame transformed to marble; and beneath,
A field is spread, on which a newer band
Have pitched in Heaven’s smile their camp of death,
Welcoming him we lose with scarce extinguished breath. 450
Here pause: these graves are all too young as yet
To have outgrown the sorrow which consigned
Its charge to each; and if the seal is set,
Here, on one fountain of a mourning mind,
Break it not thou! too surely shalt thou find 455
Thine own well full, if thou returnest home,
Of tears and gall. From the world’s bitter wind
Seek shelter in the shadow of the tomb.
What Adonais is, why fear we to become?
The One remains, the many change and pass; 460
Heaven’s light forever shines, Earth’s shadows fly;
Life, like a dome of many-coloured glass,
Stains the white radiance of Eternity,
Until Death tramples it to fragments.—Die,
If thou wouldst be with that which thou dost seek! 465
Follow where all is fled!—Rome’s azure sky,
Flowers, ruins, statues, music, words are weak
The glory they transfuse with fitting truth to speak.
Why linger, why turn back, why shrink, my Heart?
Thy hopes are gone before: from all things here 470
They have departed: thou shouldst now depart!
A light is passed from the revolving year,
And man, and woman; and what still is dear
Attracts to crush, repels to make thee wither.
The soft sky smiles,—the low wind whispers near; 475
’Tis Adonais calls! oh, hasten thither,
No more let Life divide what Death can join together.
That Light whose smile kindles the Universe,
That Beauty in which all things work and move,
That Benediction which the eclipsing Curse 480
Of birth can quench not, that sustaining Love
Which through the web of being blindly wove
By man and beast and earth and air and sea,
Burns bright or dim, as each are mirrors of
The fire for which all thirst; now beams on me, 485
Consuming the last clouds of cold mortality.
The breath whose might I have invoked in song
Descends on me; my spirit’s bark is driven,
Far from the shore, far from the trembling throng
Whose sails were never to the tempest given; 490
The massy earth and spherèd skies are riven!
I am borne darkly, fearfully, afar;
Whilst, burning through the inmost veil of Heaven,
The soul of Adonais, like a star,
Beacons from the abode where the Eternal are. 495
The poem, which is in 495 lines in 55 Spenserian stanzas, was composed in the spring of 1821 immediately after April 11, when Shelley heard of Keats' death (seven weeks earlier). It is a pastoral elegy, in the English tradition of John Milton's Lycidas. Shelley had studied and translated classical elegies. The title of the poem is likely a merging of the Greek "Adonis", the god of fertility, and the Hebrew "Adonai" (meaning "Lord"). Most critics suggest that Shelley used Virgil's tenth Eclogue, in praise of Cornelius Gallus, as a model.
It was published by Charles Ollier in July 1821 (see 1821 in poetry) with a preface in which Shelley made the mistaken assertion that Keats had died from a rupture of the lung induced by rage at the unfairly harsh reviews of his verse in the Quarterly Review and other journals. He also thanked Joseph Severn for caring for Keats in Rome. This praise increased literary interest in Severn's works.
Shelley was introduced to Keats in Hampstead towards the end of 1816 by their mutual friend, Leigh Hunt, who was to transfer his enthusiasm from Keats to Shelley. Shelley's huge admiration of Keats was not entirely reciprocated. Keats had reservations about Shelley's dissolute behaviour, and found some of Shelley's advice patronising (the suggestion, for example, that Keats should not publish his early work). It is also possible that Keats resented Hunt's transferred allegiance. Despite this, the two poets exchanged letters when Shelley and his wife moved to Italy. When Keats fell ill, the Shelleys invited him to stay with them in Pisa but Keats elected to travel with Severn. Despite this rebuff, Shelley's affection for Keats remained undimmed until his death in 1822 when a copy of Keats' works was found in a pocket on his drowned body. Shelley said of Keats, after inviting him to stay with him in Pisa after Keats fell ill: "I am aware indeed that I am nourishing a rival who will far surpass me and this is an additional motive & will be an added pleasure."
Shelley regarded Adonais as the "least imperfect" of his works.
- Stanzas 1–35
Adonais begins with the announcement of his death and the mourning that followed: "I weep for Adonais—he is dead!" In Stanzas 2 through 35 a series of mourners lament the death of Adonais. The mother of Adonais, Urania, is invoked to arise to conduct the ceremony at his bier. The allusion is to Urania, the goddess of astronomy, and to the goddess Venus, who is also known as Venus Urania.
The overriding theme is one of despair. Mourners are implored to "weep for Adonais—he is dead!" In Stanza 9 the "flocks" of the deceased appear, representing his dreams and inspirations. In Stanza 13, the personifications of the thoughts, emotions, attitudes, and skills of the deceased appear. In Stanza 22, Urania is awakened by the grief of Misery and the poet. The lament is invoked: "He will awake no more, oh, never more!" Urania pleads in vain for Adonais to awake and to arise. In Stanzas 30 through 34, a series of human mourners appears. The "Pilgrim of Eternity" is Lord Byron, George Gordon, who had met and was a friend of Shelley's but who had never met Keats. The Irish poet Thomas Moore then appears who laments the sadness and loss that time causes. Shelley himself and Leigh Hunt are also part of the "procession of mourners". In Stanzas 31 through 34 the mourner is described as "one frail Form" who has "fled astray," "his branded and ensanguined brow," a brow "like Cain’s or Christ’s."
- Stanzas 36–55
The sense of despair and hopelessness continues. In Stanza 37 the poet muses over a just punishment for the "nameless worm" and "noteless blot" who is the anonymous (now known to be John Wilson Croker) and highly critical reviewer of Keats’s Endymion (1818), who, in Shelley’s opinion, traumatized John Keats, worsening his condition. The worst punishment that Shelley can contrive is that such a scoundrel should live: "Live thou, whose infamy is not thy fame!/ Live!" Faced with the contradiction that he would wish a long life upon the miscreant who took his hero’s life, in stanza 38 the poet bursts open the gates of consolation that are required of the pastoral elegy: "Nor let us weep that our delight is fled/ Far from these carrion kites." In stanzas 45 and 46, Shelley laments that—like Thomas Chatterton, Sir Philip Sidney, and Lucan—Keats died young and did not live to develop as a poet . Keats transcends human life and has been unified with the immortal: "He has outsoared the shadow of our night;/Envy and calumny and hate and pain,/ ... Can touch him not and torture not again.... He is made one with Nature." Keats is as one with Nature, the Power, the One, and the one Spirit. Adonais "is not dead …/ He hath awakened from the dream of life." "Who mourns for Adonais?" he asks in stanza 47. Shelley turns his grief from Adonais to "we" who must live on and "decay/ Like corpses in a charnel," and after a series of stanzas (39–49) in which he celebrates the richer and fuller life that Adonais must now be experiencing, the poet becomes mindful that he is in Rome, itself a city rife with visible records of loss and decay. Moreover, he is in the Protestant cemetery there, where Shelley’s three-year-old son is buried as well; and yet, as if mocking all despair, a "light of laughing flowers along the grass is spread." Nature does not abhor death and decay, he sees; it is humans, who fear and hate in the midst of life, who do. "What Adonais is, why fear we to become?" he asks in stanza 51.
It is life’s worldly cares—that obscuring and distracting "dome of many-coloured glass"—not Death that is the enemy and the source of human despair. "Follow where all is fled," he urges, and he goads his own heart into having the courage to face not extinction but "that Light whose smile kindles the Universe." The poem concludes by imagining Adonais to be a part of "the white radiance of Eternity." At the end of the elegy, "like a star," the soul of the dead poet "Beacons from the abode where the Eternal are."
Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones read a part of Adonais on the Brian Jones memorial concert at London's on July 5, 1969. Jones, founder and guitarist of the Stones, had drowned July 3, 1969 in his swimming pool. Before an audience estimated at 250,000 to 300,000, Jagger read the following verses from Adonais:Cite error: Closing </ref> missing for <ref> tag. Actor Vincent Price read Adonais on a Caedmon Records recording which was released, originally in 1956, as an LP record and a cassette recording, Caedmon CPN 1059 and TC 1059. The recording was re-released in 1996.
In popular cultureEdit
The English rock band The Cure has recorded a song entitled "Adonais" based on the Shelley elegy as a B-side single and on the collection Join The Dots: B Sides and Rarities, 1978–2001 (2004). "Adonais" was originally the B-side to "The 13th", released in 1996.<ref>The Cure: Single: The 13th: http://www.thecure.com/discography/detail.aspx?pid=989</ref>
The title of the Star Trek: Original series episode "Who Mourns for Adonais?" is an allusion to the Shelley elegy, Stanza 47, line 415. The episode, no. 31, first aired on September 22, 1967 on NBC. It was written by Gilbert Ralston and Gene L. Coon, and directed by Marc Daniels.
- "Percy Shelley: Adonais", John Keats (February 12, 2004). Retrieved June 30, 2005.
- Sandy, Mark. 'Adonais (1821)', The Literary Encyclopaedia (September 20, 2002). Retrieved June 30, 2005.
- Beatty, Bernard. "The Transformation of Discourse: Epipsychidion, Adonais, and some lyrics". In: Essays on Shelley, ed. Miriam Allott. Liverpool University Press, 1982.
- Bertoneche, Caroline. "From Poet to Poet or Shelley’s Inconsistencies in Keats’s Panegyric: Adonais as an Autobiographical Work of Art", 15 June 2007. Retrieved May 7, 2009.
- Brigham, Linda C. (1999). "Disciplinary Hybridity in Shelley's Adonais." Mosaic (Winnipeg), Vol. 32.
- Epstein, Andrew. (1999). "'Flowers that Mock the Corse Beneath': Shelley's Adonais, Keats, and Poetic Influence." KSJ, 48, pp. 90–128.
- Everest, Kelvin. (2007). "Shelley's Adonais and John Keats." Essays in Criticism, 57(3), pp. 237–264.
- Mahony, Patrick. J. (1964). "An Analysis of Shelley's Craftsmanship in Adonais." Studies in English Literature, 1500–1900, 4. pp. 555–68.
- Meirelles, Alexandre. Adonais. Book Review. August 26, 2007.
- O'Leary, Joseph S. "Plotinus in 'Mont Blanc' and 'Adonais'." Essays on Literary and Theological Themes.
- Roberts, Charles G.D. Shelley's Adonais and Alastor. NY: Silver, Burdett, 1902.
- Sharp, Michele Turner. (Summer, 2000). "Mirroring the Future: Adonais, Elegy, and the Life in Letters." Criticism, 42, 3.
- Ward, J.V. (2003). "The Constant Theme of Death in the Works of Keats and Shelley."
- Weeks, Jerome. "O, weep for Adonais — for he is being adapted by Hollywood." book/daddy, Jerome Weeks on books.
- ↑ "Percy Shelley: Adonais", John Keats (February 12, 2004). Retrieved June 30, 2005.
- ↑ Percy Bysshe Shelley, "Adonais," English Poetry II: Collins to Fitzgerald, Harvard Classics, 1909-1914, Bartleby.com, Web, July 11, 2011.
- ↑ "Percy Shelley: Adonais", John Keats (February 12, 2004). Retrieved June 30, 2005.
- ↑ *"Percy Shelley: Adonais", John Keats (February 12, 2004). Retrieved June 30, 2005.
- ↑ John Keats: Letters: To Percy Bysshe Shelley, 16 August 1820: http://englishhistory.net/keats/letters/shelley16August1820.html
- ↑ The Vincent Price Exhibit: http://www.angelfire.com/film/rdsquires/RadioRecordings.htm
- Complete text of 'Adonais: An Elegy on the Death of John Keats" at Representative Poetry Online.
- Audio / video
- Audiorecording of extracts from "Adonais" by the BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/romantics/poems4.shtml