Adonais: Poem No. 30 - Summary & Analysis

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Stanza 30
Line 262-270
Thus ceased she: and the mountain shepherds came,
Their garlands sere, their magic mantles rent;
The Pilgrim of Eternity whose fame
Over his living head like heaven is bent,
An early but enduring monument,
Came, veiling all the lightnings of his song
In sorrow. From her wilds Ierne sent
The sweetest lyrist of her saddest wrong,
And Love taught Grief to fall like music from his tongue.

Summary

      Then came the poets to mourn Adonais, like shepherds mourning their chief. They were wild with grief. Among them were Byron, who won fame early in life as the poet of Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, and Moore, the Irish poet, whose lamentation was all the more musical, because it was inspired by love.

Explanation

      L. 262. Thus...she—Urania's lamentation ended thus. Mountain Shepherds—poets L. 263. Sere—withered. Magic mantles rent—their cloaks are tom; the mantles are called 'magic' because the poets (who are the shepherds) have the magical power of songs. The dried flowers of their garlands and torn mantles are customary external signs of grief.

      LI. 262-263. Thus ceased she...rent. Shelley describes the lamentation of Urania over Adonais; the reproaches the malicious critics whose articles caused the death of Adonais (Keats); and concludes by remarking that now that the great poet is dead, the critics, too, are silent. Then come the contemporary poets in the guise of shepherds to mourn their dead brother. They wear the customary garlands of flower and long cloaks associated with shepherds; but the flowers are withered and their cloaks torn as indications of their desperate sorrow.

      L. 264. Pilgrim of Eternily—among the mourners was Byron, the writer of Childe Harold's Pilgrimage which made him heir to eternal fame. Shelley has special regard for Byron's poetic powers and considered them better than his own. Childe Harold is a name invented by Byron to describe under that name his own wanderings.

      LI. 264-265. Whose fame...bent—Byron's fame is like a spiritual vault over his giving soul, whereas the vault of a tomb is the material monument over less famous poets. Byron's fame acquired in his life-time is compared to a monument, and the monument is compared to the blue dome of the sky—so vast, so ethereal, so eternal the fame is destined to be.

      LI. 264-268. The Pilgrim of Eternity.....in sorrow. Among the shepherds who came to mourn the death of Adonais (Keats) the first to be mentioned is Byron. As a poet, he came to lament the death of a brother-poet. He was the poet of the immortal Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, which is entitled to eternal fame as the record of his journey in the spirit over famous places in Europe. He was, even when living, assured of fame because of his great poetry. His fame was his great monument to keep alive his memory for ever; it was vaulted over his head, even when he was alive, like the blue dome of the sky. Though he acquired the fame quite early in life, it was destined to be permanent. Now he came to lament over the dead Adonais, the usual passion and energy of his poetry subdued by the dulling effect of grief on his mind, singing a quiet, pathetic song appropriate to the occasion.

      L. 266. An early...monument—Byron's fame, though acquired early, is a permanent monument to his poetic genius. Byron published the first volume of Childe Harold in 1812, when he was only 23. L. 267. Veiling...sorrow—subduing by the sorrow of his heart the characteristic passionate energy and vehemence of his poetry. L. 268. From her wilds—from the woody country of Ireland. Ierne—Ireland.

      L. 269. Sweetest...wrong—the reference is to Thomas Moore (1779-1852) who wrote some noble patriotic songs enshrining the wrong done to Ireland by her English masters. Pro Patria Mori celebrating the execution of the Irish patriot Emment is one such song. L. 270. Love taught... tongue—Moore's love for Keats made his elegiac song for him specially charming with melancholy music.

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