Adonais: Poem No. 16 - Summary & Analysis

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Stanza 16
Line 136-144
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;
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.


      Spring season has become so wild with grief that it sheds all its buds. Since. Adonais was gone, spring did not care to wake up Nature's beauty. Narcissus, Hyacinth and other flowers stood pale and withered for grief.


            LI. 136-138. Grief made....dead leaves. All Nature mourned for Adonais. It was in the middle of April that Shelley heard of the death of Keats, and soon after he began composing his elegy The fresh life of Nature being manifest round him, Shelley's thoughts naturally turned to it and he fancifully depicted the early spring mourning in wild excess of sorrow. The budding flowers were cast down by spring in a mood of desperate grief and the season looked more like autumn than spring, and the cast-off buds looked more like withered autumnal leaves than flowers about to bloom forth.

      L. 136. Young Spring—Spring season which had just begun. Shelley first heard of the death of Keats in April and thought that he had died in that month. He did not know that Keats had died in February, i.e., winter. So he describes early spring, just come with new buds and green leaves, as wild with grief. Wild—mad with grief. Threw down—shed, tore off and scattered about. L. 137. Kindling—just beginning to bloom. As if....were—as if Spring were Autumn; i.e., young buds were shed and torn in the spring season just as they are torn and scattered by the wild winds and rains of autumn. L. 138. Or they....leaves—or as if the budding flowers were no better than withered leaves which fall off from trees and plants. Since her delight is flown—since all her joys are gone along with the death of Adonais. L. 139. For whom...Year?— For whose sake should spring have cared to bring fresh life and beauty to the gloomy, cheerless aspect of Nature as it is in the winter season?

      LI. 140-143. To Phoebus...thou, Adonais—Phoebus (sun-god, Apollo) did not love his young friend Hyacinth so dearly, nor did Narcissus (a very beautiful youth) love himself so dearly; as both Hyacinth flower and Narcissus flower loved you, O Adonais! Pheobus loved a youth named Hyacinth, with whom he used to play in the woods; one day a quoit (stone disk) thrown up in play was directed by the envious Zephyr (god of west wind) against Hyacinth's head, causing his death. Phoebus lamented over him and changed his blood into the flower now called Hyacinth on which are to be found two marks like the Greek letter meaning 'alas'! Narcissus who disdained the love of Echo fell in love with his own reflection in a pool and would not leave off looking at it. In this condition, he died and was changed into Narcissus flower. Both these beautiful flowers loved Adonais very much.

      L. 142. Wan—pale (in grief). Sere—withered L. 143. Amid the faint...youth—in the midst of other flowers which, too, are withered (faint) through grief. Shelley first speaks of spring mourning for Adonais; then of the individual flowers too—specially the most colored and beautiful ones. L. 144. With dew...ruth—the dew on these flowers looks like tear-drops shed by them, and their fragrance seems like their palpable feeling of sorrow. Odour—smell. Ruth—sorrow.

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