Adonais: Poem No. 23 - Summary & Analysis

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Stanza 23
Line 199-207
She rose like an autumnal Night that springs
Out of the east, and follows wild and drear
The golden Day; which, on eternal wings,
Even as a ghost abandoning a bier,
Had left the Earth a corpse. Sorrow and fear
So struck, so roused, so rapt, Urania;
So saddened round her like an atmosphere
Of stormy mist; so swept her on her way
Even to the mournful place where Adonais lay.


      Urania rose like an autumnal night following a windy autumnal day. Wrapped in sorrow and fear; she made her way to the side of the dead Adonais.


      L. 199. She rose...Night—Urania in her wild grief, with her splendor faded, is compared to a misty; windy night in autumn, dark and stormy, yet having an awful beauty of its own. That springs....east—Shelley imagines that night begins her journey from the eastern horizon (a scientifically true idea) below which, as he says in another poem, she has her "misty eastern cave."

      LI. 200-201. Follows—the autumnal night comes in the wake of the autumnal day when the sunlight is growing soft and mellow (hence ’golden’), and the night becomes 'wild and drear', i.e, full of roaring winds, thick mists and deep gloom. L. 201 On eternal zings—wings on which it (day) is flying ort through eternal time. L. 202. Ghost—soul, spirit. Abandoning a bier—as the soul of a man leaves the death-bed on which the man lies dead.

      L. 203. Had left....corpse—so also the day had left the earth as if it were a dead body because in autumn, leaves fall, flowers witheir, mists darken, all nature seems dead. This is a favorite idea of Shelley which occurs again and again in his poems. Sorrow—grief for Adonais. Fear—fear of her own miserable, lonely life now that her dearest, youngest son is gone.

      L. 204. So struck—i.e., struck Urania in the same manner as howling winds and cold mists strike the figure of autumnal night. Rapt—surrounded; sorrow and fear are compared to the thick mists which surround an autumnal night. L. 205 Saddened—darkened, pressed with sadness. L. 206. So swept her....way—sorrow and fear swiftly gushed her on- her way just as mist and storm gush upon the night. L. 207. Mournful place—i.e., death-chamber.

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