Adonais: Poem No. 18 - Summary & Analysis

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Stanza 18
Line 154-162
Ah woe is me! Winter is come and gone,
But grief returns with the revolving year.
The airs and streams renew their joyous tone;
The ants, the bees, the swallows, re-appear;
Fresh leaves and flowers deck the dead Seasons' bier; The amorous birds now pair in every brake,
And build their mossy homes in field brere;
And the green lizard and the golden snake,
Like unimprisoned flames, out of their trance awake.

Summary

      The winter is gone: but the spring brings in a great sorrow, while the air and streams, leaves and flowers wake to new life, as ants, bees, birds, and other creatures of nature.

Explanation

      L. 154. Woe is me—alas! Winter...gone—i.e., winter with all its rigors and distress is now safely ever. L. 155. Grief returns—though the 'grief' of winter i.e., the rigors of winter are gone, the dawn of spring brings in a new sorrow, viz., the death of Adonais. The grief 'returns' in the sense that it was expected to be over in winter but comes again in a new shape. L. 157. Swallows—these are summer birds; they disappear in winter.

      L. 158. Deck....bier—adorn the death-bed (here grave) of the seasons that have gone before—Winter and Autumn. The earth is the grave of the seasons and is now (in spring) decorated with leaves and flowers. L. 159. Amorous—full of love. Brake— thicket, bush. L. 160. Mossy home—nests with an upper layer of moss in them. Brere—briar, bush. L. 162. Like....flames—streaks or lines of flame let loose from a covered fire-place. Out of....awake—return to active life after their dull sleep in winter.

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