Adonais: Poem No. 3 - Summary & Analysis

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Stanza 3
Line 19-27
Oh, weep for Adonais—he is dead!
Wake, melancholy Mother wake and weep!
Yet wherefore? Quench within their burning bed
Thy fiery tears, and let thy loud heart keep.
Like his, a mute and uncomplaining sleep;
For he is gone where all things Wise and fair
Descend;—Oh, dream not that the amorous Deep
Will yet restore him to the vital air;
Death feeds on his mute voice, and laughs at our despair.

Summary

      The poet asks Urania to weep for Adonais, but he knows that he will not come back to life for all her weeping. It is better, therefore, that she should suppress her tears and press down the anguish of her heart.

Explanation

      L. 19. O weep...dead—this line or its equivalent is taken up again and again as a refrain, after the elegiac traditions of Bion and Moschus. L. 21. Yet wherefore?—Yet what is the good of weeping?—Adonais will not come back. Quench...tears—suppress your hot tears within your eyes which are the source of the tears. L. 22. Late thy loud...sleep—suppress the wild beatings of your agonized heart so as to make your heart silent, as if it did not lament at all, just as the heart of Adonais is silent and griefless now in-death. The suggestion is that Urania had better suffer her anguish in silence and dull stupor. L. 24. For he....descend—for Adonais is gone to the dark region of death where all beautiful things on earth are ultimately gathered. L. 25. Dream not— do not have the wrong belief. Amorous Deep—the underworld of death personified (Deep is so full of love for Adonais that it will not consent to give him up. Shelley has in mind Persephone, queen of Pluto; she retains Adonais now and is not going to part with him. L. 26. Restore...air—return him to the life-giving air of the upper world.

      L. 27. Death feeds...our despair—Death (Persephone) now enjoys the music of his voice, now silenced on earth, and mocks in triumph over us who miss his sweet voice (poetry) so much and lament in vain.

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