Adonais: Poem No. 12 - Summary & Analysis

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Stanza 12
Line 100-108
Another Splendour on his mouth alit,
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;
And, as a dying meteor stains a wreath
Of moonlight vapor which the cold night clips,
It flushed through his pale limbs, and passed to its eclipse.


      Another luminous Dream kissed his cold mouth, the mouth from which she used to draw her strength. The Dream instead of urawing life from his lips now died because of contact with it, only lighting up the body for a moment.


      LI. 100-105. Another Splendour on his.....icy lips. As Adonais (Keats) lay dead, the dreams and fancies which used to spring from his brain and be nursed in his heart, came to mourn the death. One of these glorious dreams descended on his dead lips and kissed them; as long as Adonais was alive, the dream used to derive vitality from a contact with his lips, i.e., the dream would be transformed from inaudible thought to a living spoken word. Being thus transformed into language, the dream would be able to penetrate into the dull, unsympathetic brain of his readers, and work in their very hearts, agitating them with the joys of passionate feelings, overpowering them with the brilliance and vividness of the imagery and the charm of musical sound. But now that Adonais lay dead, the cold death-dew on his face only served to extinguish the warmth of the kiss upon his dead cold lips. So the dream was no more translated into language.

      LI. 106-108. And, as a dying.....its eclipse. As the fading light of a shooting star, falling across the body of a pale, moon-lit cloud which is embraced by the cold, dark nocturnal sky just once lights it up and is then gone forever, so the poetic fancy by its kiss on the lips of Adonais just once lighted his dead body which was in the embrace of cold death and then it disappeared for ever.

      L. 100. Another Splendour—another luminous Dream: another of Adonais's fancies, here imagined as an ethereal, spiritual being. On his mouth —descending on the lip of Adonais.

      L. 101. That mouth—i.e., the lips of Adonais when he was alive. Whence it....breath—from which lips the Splendour (fancy) was accustomed to derive vitality—i.e., in contact with the lips of Adonais, the thought (Splendour) was transformed into the spoken word full of the force of appeal.

      L. 102. Which gave it strength—which (breath, i.e., vitality drawn from his lips) gave the Dream power. To pierce...wit—to penetrate into the dull, obstinate brain of unpoetic readers or hearers of Adonais (Keats).

      L. 103. Pass into...beneath— and passing through the brain reach the hearts and agitate their feelings. L. 104. Lightning —bright, flashing images. Music—harmony of rhythmic language.

      LI. 104-105. The damp death...lips—as the kiss (caress) of the Splendour touched the dead chilly lips of Adonais her happy warmth was lost by their cold contact. Damp death—old death-dew on the face of the dead Adonais.

      L. 106. Dying meteor—a shooting star which is fast vanishing in the air. Stains—colors, adds gleam to. Wreath...vapor—patch of moon-lit cloud. L. 107. Clips—embraces. Which clips—which vapor (cloud) is in the grip of the dark cold night-sky.

      L. 108. It flushed...limbs—the Splendour only once glowed through the dead, white limbs of Adonais. Passed...eclipse—disappeared. The Splendour herself died and was gone forever.

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