Adonais: Poem No. 2 - Summary & Analysis

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Stanza 2
Line 10-18
Where wert thou, mighty Mother, when he lay;
When thy son lay pierced by the shaft which flies
In darkness? Where was lorn Urania
When Adonais died? With veiled eyes,
Mid listening Echoes, in her paradise
She sate, while one, with soft enamoured breath,
Rekindled all the fading melodies,
With which, like flowers that mock the corse beneath,
He had adorned and hid the coming bulk of Death.


      Urania, the mighty mother, was not by the side of Adonais when he died. She was in a sleep-like trance of extreme joy in her Paradise, listening to the melodious poetry of Adonais sung by one of her attending Echoes.


      L. 10 Mighty Mother—Urania, the spirit of Love and Beauty, whose youngest child Adonais (Keats) is imagined to be. Lay—i.e. lay dead. L. 11. Pierced—wounded. Shaft—arrow. Which flies in darkness—which is shot by an enemy who, coward-like hides himself in the dark. L. 12. Lorn—forlorn, bereft of her son. Urania—the name by which Shelley personifies the spirit of celestial love and beauty which feeds the hearts of all poets;—hence the personified figure is the 'Mighty Mother,' whose sons are all truly inspired poets. With veiled eyes—with eyes closed in an ecstatic pleasure of the soul. L. 14. Mid listening Echoes—in the midst of Echoes, are the maids and companions of Urania. Paradise—celestial abode in the ideal region of art and beauty. L. 15. One— of the Echoes; With...breath—with a gentle, charmed voice. L. 16. Re-kindled—gave sweet, energetic expression to. Fading melodies—harmonious poetry of Keats which he wrote when he was already decaying to death. The reference is to the charming music and romantic art of the later poetry of Keats—the Odes and Hyperion in particular. L. 17. Mock—contrast with. Corse—dead body of Adonais. Beneath—under the flowers, Like flowers...beneath—just as fading flowers now hide the dead body of Keats lying ready to be put into the grave. L. 18. Bulk—grossness, weight.

      L. 18. He had...Death. Keats had charmed all lovers of poetry so as to hide from them the fact that the weight of coming death was already pressing upon him. Shelley here describes, how Urania was engaged in her own region of ideal love and beauty when her son, Adonais (Keats), lay dead on earth. She was in a sleep-like state of extreme joy as she sat surrounded by her hand-maidens, the Echoes, one among whom with a soft, tremulous, emotional voice gave utterance to the musical poetry which was composed by Adonais while his vigor was already decayed. With these last melodies he shed a glory over death itself and hid from all his admirers the fact that death was already pressing upon him, just as now the flowers adorn and hide his dead body

      Shelley etherealizes his subject from the very beginning. Abstractions are crowded into the poetry before it has proceeded beyond the second stanza. Adonais is made a spiritual figure; yet the facts of the life and death of Keats are admirably fitted into the highly idealized picture.

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