Adonais: Poem No. 40 - Summary & Analysis

Also Read

Stanza 40
Line 352-360
He has outsoared the shadow of our night;
Envy and calumny and hate and pain,
And that unrest which men miscall delight,
Can touch him not and torture not again;
From the contagion of the world's slow stain
He is secure, and now can never mourn
A heart grown cold, a head grown grey; in vain;
Nor, when the spirit's self has ceased to burn,
With sparkless ashes load an unlamented urn.


      Adonais has attained a condition in which envy and hate and the disturbing unquiet of heart cannot touch him. He is above all earthly sorrows; the infirmities of age and the misery of an unlamented death in helpless old age cannot touch him.


      L. 352. Outsoared—flown above. Shadow....night—darkness of our earthly existence which is like night. By dying he has risen beyond the limits of our dark earthly life into the light of Eternity L. 353. Envy calumny...unrest— these make the 'shadow’ of our earthly life, i.e., these are fearful ghost-like things which haunt our lives. Calumny—slander. All these afflict our lives, though they are unrealities like ourselves. Cf;

"This life
Of error, ignorance and strife
Where nothing is but all things seem
And we the shadows of the dream."—The Sensitive Plant

      L. 354. That unrest...delight—that restlessness (i.e., running after wealth, fame, etc.) which men foolishly take to be their delight. L. 355. Touch him not—cannot any more afflict Adonais. L. 356. From the contagion....Stain—from the corrupting, degrading influence of the evils of life which come upon us as we slowly grow into age.

      L. 357. He is secure—Adonais is now protected, for he has merged into Eternity. LI. 357-58. Can never...cold—because he is no more on earth, he has not to lament the loss of the warmth of his heart ("feeling's dull decay" as Byron calls it) which he would have to feel if he lived up to old age. L. 358. Head...In vain—old age which has brought no love and honor of fellowmen. L. 359. When the spirit's...burn—when the ardor and vigor of the soul have first died out through old age.

      L. 360 Sparkless ashes—body which has lost all energy and activity. Load...urn—fill a grave for which nobody laments. If Keats had lived to old age, he would have certainly lost the fire and keenness of his soul and then died; his worn-out, inert body would have been buried unlamented by anybody. Byron speaks of old age thus:

"Then the mortal coldness of the soul like death itself comes down: It cannot feel for others' woes, it dare not dream its own."

Previous Post Next Post