Adonais eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 147 pages of information about Adonais.
as published].  I shall send it to you, either printed at Pisa, or transcribed in such a manner as it shall be difficult for the reviser to leave such errors as assist the obscurity of the Prometheus.  But in case I send it printed, it will be merely that mistakes may be avoided.  I shall only have a few copies struck off in the cheapest manner.  If you have interest enough in the subject, I could wish that you enquired of some of the friends and relations of Keats respecting the circumstances of his death, and could transmit me any information you may be able to collect; and especially as [to] the degree in which (as I am assured) the brutal attack in the Quarterly Review excited the disease by which he perished.’

The criticism which Shelley intended to write on Hyperion remained, to all appearance, unwritten.  It will be seen, from the letter of Shelley to Mr. Severn cited further on (p. 34), that, from the notion of writing a criticism on Hyperion to precede Adonais, his intention developed into the project of writing a criticism and biography of Keats in general, to precede a volume of his entire works; but that, before the close of November, the whole scheme was given up, on the ground that it would produce no impression on an unregardful public.

In another letter to Ollier, 11 June, the poet says:  ’Adonais is finished, and you will soon receive it.  It is little adapted for popularity, but is perhaps the least imperfect of my compositions.’

Shelley on 16 June caused his Elegy to be printed in Pisa, ’with the types of Didot’:  a small quarto, and a handsome one (notwithstanding his project of cheapness); the introductory matter filling five pages, and the poem itself going on from p. 7 to p. 25.  It appeared in blue paper wrappers, with a woodcut of a basket of flowers within an ornamental border.  Its price was three and sixpence:  of late years L40 has been given for it—­perhaps more.  Up to 13 July only one copy had reached the author’s hands:  this he then sent on to the Gisbornes, at Leghorn.  Some copies of the Pisa edition were afterwards put into circulation in London:  there was no separate English edition.  The Gisbornes having acknowledged the Elegy with expressions of admiration, the poet replied as follows: 

’Bagni [di Pisa], July 19.

’MY DEAREST FRIENDS,

’I am fully repaid for the painful emotions from which some verses of my poem sprung by your sympathy and approbation; which is all the reward I expect, and as much as I desire.  It is not for me to judge whether, in the high praise your feelings assign me, you are right or wrong.  The poet and the man are two different natures:  though they exist together, they may be unconscious of each other, and incapable of deciding on each other’s powers and efforts by any reflex act.  The decision of the cause whether or not I am a poet is removed from the present time to the hour when our posterity shall assemble:  but the court is a very severe one, and I fear that the verdict will be “Guilty—­death."’

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Adonais from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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