Adonais: Poem No. 24 - Summary & Analysis

Also Read

Stanza 24
Line 208-216
Out of her secret paradise she sped,
Through camps and cities rough with stone and steel
And human hearts, which, to her aery tread
Yielding not, wounded the invisible
Palms of her tender feet where'er they fell.
And barbed tongues, and thoughts more sharp than they,
Rent the soft form they never could repel,
Whose sacred blood, like the young tears of May;
Paved with eternal flowers that undeserving way.


      As she made her way through the rough, unfeeling world, her feet were wounded by having to tread on the hard hearts of men, her delicate figure was wounded by the malice and wicked thoughts of men. But out of her afflictions came out the flowers of poetry which adorned her path.


      L. 208. Secret Paradise—invisible or secluded Paradise. 'Paradise' is a here neither 'heaven' nor the Paradise of Miltonic conception. It is pure, ethereal region of love, peace and joy where Urania, the Spirit of Poetry has her abode, Sped—flew.

      LI. 209-210. through camps....human hearts—this line refers to the journey of Urania from her sacred abode through our rough, human world—through camps and cities of men which are made terrible and wounding with stones, steel weapons and equally rude and sharp human hearts. "Stone and steel" is metaphorical for the malice, wickedness, want of sympathy of human hearts. Human hearts—ruel, loveless human hearts. Note how Shelley mixes up two concrete images and the thing (heart) for which they stand. Cf. Shakespeare in Julius Caesar: "All the bound in shallows and in miseries." L. 210. Which—i.e., the stony human hearts. To her,..not—these stony and steely hearts were so hard that they did not yield to the light (airy) footsteps of Urania but wounded and pierced her feet. L. 212. Palms— "soles"; Shelley often uses 'palms' for soles in connexion with the feet of aerial beings. LI. 213-216. In these lines Shelley describes what wounded her body also.

      L. 213. Barbed tongues—tongues pointed and wounding as arrows; sharp, quarrelsome, noisy tongues of malice. Thoughts....vicious thoughts more wounding than spoken words of malice. The light, spiritual figure of Urania (Muse of poetry) had to walk over the minds and tongues of men—thoughts and language being the essentials of poetry. But the thought and tongues of men were rude and shocking of her.

      L. 214. Rent— wounded, soft form—tender external form of Urania. They never repel— though the malicious tongues and evil thoughts could not quite shake off from them the form of the tender spirit of poetry; i.e., howsoever much the unimaginative, base-minded, savage-hearted men of the world may try to reject the balmy influence of poetry poetry will make its way into the hardest hearts and tame them ultimately Cf. Shelley's lines:

"And soon
Every sprite beneath the moon
Would repent its envy vain,
And the earth grow young again.
"-Euganean Hills.

      LI. 215-216. Whose sacred...undeserving way—the sacred blood, issuing out of the figure of poetry (Urania) from the wounds given to her by the tongues and thoughts of the wicked race of men, drops on the earth and is transformed into eternal flowers of love and charity; just as the raindrops of the spring in May caused flowers to spring up on the dirt and mud of the earth. But the wicked earth does not deserve to be so honored and benefited by the noble gifts of poetry. Young tears of May—raindrops in spring which make flowers grow. Undeserving way—path which does not deserve to be so beautified with the flowers of love and charity.

Previous Post Next Post