Adonais: Poem No. 43 - Summary & Analysis

Also Read

Stanza 43
Line 379-387
He is a portion of the loveliness
Which once he made more lovely: He doth bear
His part, while the One Spirit's plastic stress
Sweeps through the dull dense world, compelling there,
All new successions to the forms they wear;
Torturing the unwilling dross, that checks its flight
To its own likeness, as each mass may bear;
And bursting in its beauty and its might
From trees and beasts and men into the Heaven's light.


      Adonais is now a portion of the Universal Beauty which he caught in his poetry. He is now functioning as a part of the Universal Spirit which working in the world of matter, shapes it to various forms infusing them with spiritual qualities according to their capacity, and bursts in beauty from those living forms.


      L. 379. Loveliness—the Universal Spirit is here spoken of as Beauty— "that Beauty in which all things live and move". It is the Ideal Beauty to which all lovable objects are made to conform to some extent. L. 380. Which once he...lovely—which idea of beauty Adonais (Keats) had made more lovely by his poetic treatment of it in his poetry Keats once said, "I have loved the abstract idea of beauty in all things" and in an Ode he has identified truth with beauty.

      LI. 380-381. He doth...part—the soul of Adonais now forming part of this Universal Spirit of beauty does its work of shaping material objects with the essence of beauty L. 381. Plastic stress—shaping force, creative energy. L. 382. Sweeps through—acts through. Dull dense world—world of matter, which is coarse and unimpressed by the spiritual force. Compelling forcing in that world of matter. L. 383. All new succession—all objects or phenomena of the universe coming into existence in course of time. To forms they wear—i.e., making them assume the particular shapes by which they are distinguished

      LI. 381-385. The one Spirit's plastic ....may bear. Shelley here gives poetic expression to his Platonic philosophy that the world of matter is only an imperfect copy of the ideal beauty of the world of Ideas. The Universal Spirit that sustains and animates the universe is a creative force, its main principle being beauty. It is perfect beauty. by itself. Now; this spirit operates through the material world which in itself is inert and hostile to the operation of the spirit; but the spirit by infusing itself into the world of matter compels different objects of nature in their evolution to assume their respective forms. It also imparts to these objects a part of its own beauty while shaping them into forms; but matter being dull and irresponsive resists the action of the spirit which tries to give to each object so much of its beauty as that object is capable of receiving. Thus matter is endowed with energy (another name of ’beauty') and different living objects (with a body and a soul, like "trees and beasts and men") come into existence.

      L. 384. Torturing—compelling, forcing. Unwilling dross—dull material matter which seems incapable of receiving the spiritual impress given to them by the indwelling Spirit that shapes them into forms. Checks its flight—resists the passage, i.e., action of the spirit's power.

      L. 385. To its own likeness—to approach the beauty of the spirit itself. As each....bear—the spirit can shape each material object to its own (i.e., spirit's) beauty only so far as that object is capable of receiving its impress. A particular material object has a particularly limited capacity to mold itself to beauty up to a particular extent. L. 386. Bursting—pres, participle, adj. to 'plastic stress'. L. 381. The 'Plastic stress' i.e., the shaping force of the spirit, first compels all new successions...and then bursts into its beauty.

      LI. 386-387. And bursting....Heaven's light—the shaping force of the spirit which is Beauty in creative energy fills different material objects like trees, beasts and men with a portion of itself and thus makes them living; but it cannot be wholly contained within the limits of those objects—it infuses, animates, overbrims, and finally bursts in its beauty and power; and makes itself one with the perfect light of the ideal world of beauty (Heaven's light), somewhat like an imprisoned flame of fire bursting from the material receptacle and rising upwards, without, of course, destroying the receptacle.

Previous Post Next Post