Adonais eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 184 pages of information about Adonais.

* * * * *


  And ever as he went he swept a lyre
    Of unaccustomed shape, and ... strings
  Now like the ... of impetuous fire
    Which shakes the forest with its murmurings,
    Now like the rush of the aerial wings 5
  Of the enamoured wind among the treen,
    Whispering unimaginable things,
  And dying on the streams of dew serene
Which feed the unmown meads with ever-during green.


  And then came one of sweet and earnest looks,
    Whose soft smiles to his dark and night-like eyes
  Were as the clear and ever-living brooks
    Are to the obscure fountains whence they rise,
    Showing how pure they are:  a paradise 5
  Of happy truth upon his forehead low
    Lay, making wisdom lovely, in the guise
  Of earth-awakening morn upon the brow
Of star-deserted heaven while ocean gleams below.


  His song, though very sweet, was low and faint,
    A simple strain.

* * * * *


      A mighty Phantasm, half concealed
    In darkness of his own exceeding light,
  Which clothed his awful presence unrevealed,
    Charioted on the ... night
    Of thunder-smoke, whose skirts were chrysolite. 5


  And like a sudden meteor which outstrips
    The splendour-winged chariot of the sun,
                                   ... eclipse
    The armies of the golden stars, each one
    Pavilioned in its tent of light—­all strewn 5
  Over the chasms of blue night—­



Line 1. Adonais.  There is nothing to show positively why Shelley adopted the name Adonais as a suitable Hellenic name for John Keats.  I have already suggested (p. 59) that he may perhaps have wished to indicate, in this indirect way, that his poem was founded partly upon the Elegy of Bion for Adonis.  I believe the name Adonais was not really in use among the Greeks, and is not anywhere traceable in classical Grecian literature.  It has sometimes been regarded as a Doricized form of the name Adonis:  Mr. William Cory says that it is not this, but would properly be a female form of the same name.  Dr. Furnivall has suggested to me that Adonais is ’Shelley’s variant of Adonias, the women’s yearly mourning for Adonis.’  Disregarding details, we may perhaps say that the whole subject of his Elegy is treated by Shelley as a transposition of the lament, as conceived by Bion, of the Cyprian Aphrodite for Adonis; and that, as he changes the Cyprian into the Uranian Aphrodite, so he changes the dead youth from Adonis into Adonais.

1. 4. Motto from the poet Plato.  This motto has been translated by Shelley himself as follows: 

’Thou wert the morning star among the living,
  Ere thy fair light had fled:—­
Now, having died, thou art as Hesperus, giving
  New splendour to the dead.’

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Adonais from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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